Patterns of p57Kip2 expression in embryonic rat brain suggest roles in progenitor cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation

Weizhen Ye, Georges Mairet-Coello, Elise Pasoreck, Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In developing central nervous system, a variety of mechanisms couple cell cycle exit to differentiation during neurogenesis. The cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor p57Kip2 controls the transition from proliferation to differentiation in many tissues, but roles in developing brain remain uncertain. To characterize possible functions, we defined p57Kip2 protein expression in embryonic (E) day 12.5 to 20, 5 rat brains using immunohistochemistry combined with markers of proliferation and differentiation. The p57Kip2 was localized primarily in cell nuclei and positive cells formed two distinct patterns including wide dispersion and laminar aggregation that were brain region-specific. From E12.5 to E16.5, p57Kip2 expression was detected mainly in ventricular zone (VZ) and/or mantle zone of hippocampus, septum, basal ganglia, thalamus, hypothalamus, midbrain, and spinal cord. After E18.5, p57Kip2 was detected in select regions undergoing differentiation. The p57Kip2 expression was also compared with regional transcription factors, including Ngn2, Nkx2.1, and Pax6. Time course studies performed in diencephalon showed that p57Kip2 immunoreactivity colocalized with BrdU at 8 hr in nuclei exhibiting the wide dispersion pattern, whereas colocalization in the laminar pattern occurred only later. Moreover, p57Kip2 frequently colocalized with neuronal marker, β-III tubulin. Finally, we characterized relationships of p57Kip2 to CDK inhibitor p27Kip1: in proliferative regions, p57Kip2 expression preceded p27Kip1 as cells underwent differentiation, though the proteins colocalized in substantial numbers of cells, suggesting potentially related yet distinct functions of Op/Kip family members during neurogenesis. Our observations that p57Kip2 exhibits nuclear expression as precursors exit the cell cycle and begin expressing neuronal characteristics suggests that the CDK inhibitor contributes to regulating the transition from proliferation to differentiation during brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kipl
  • Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p57Kip2
  • Embryonic development
  • Nervous system embryology
  • Neural precursor proliferation
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuronal differentiation


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