Vertebrate neurogenesis involves sequential actions of transcription factors. neurogenins, encoding Atonal-related bHLH transcription factors, function as neuronal determination genes in Xenopus. neurogenins and another bHLH factor gene, Mash1, are expressed in distinct subsets or areas of cells giving rise to neurons, suggesting that these genes play important roles to generate distinct populations of neurons. A mammalian homologue of BarH (MBH1) is expressed in a complementary pattern to Mash1 expression in the developing nervous system like neurogenins. Forced expression of MBH1 down- regulates expression of Mash1 and up-regulates neurogenin2/Math4A, a member of neurogenins, in P19 cells during neuronal differentiation. This suggests that MBH1 is a potential regulator of mammalian neural bHLH genes, thereby establishing distinct pathways of neuronal differentiation.
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