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Keywords:

  • mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons;
  • midbrain;
  • neurodegenerative disease;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • substantia nigra;
  • transcription factors

Abstract

Since mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons are associated to one of the most prominent human neurodegenerative ailments, Parkinson's disease, the molecular mechanism underlying their development and adult cellular properties has been the subject of intense investigations. Throughout life, transcription factors determine the fate of this neuronal population and control essential processes such as localization in the ventral midbrain, their neurotransmitter phenotype, their target innervations and synapse formation. Studies of transcription factors, such as Nurr1, Pitx3, Engrailed-1/2, and Lmx1a/b, have not only revealed importance of these genes during development, but also roles in the long-term survival and maintenance of these neurons. In this review, we will discuss the function of these transcription factors throughout the life of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and their value in the study of the disease mechanism. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society