Ventral Spinal Cord Astrocyte Reactivity is Context Dependent on TF Nkx6.1



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Astrocytes, glial cells essential for the maintenance and function of neuronal circuits in the central nervous system (CNS), are functionally diverse across CNS regions. To determine the maintenance of this diversity, we identified transcription factors (TF) with region-specific expression. Through immunohistochemical staining, we have been able to identify the expression of five neurodevelopmental TFs in mature spinal cord astrocytes: Nkx6.1, Nkx6.2, Nkx2.2, Msx1, and Olig2. Notably, Nkx6.1 expression is expressed specifically in mature ventral spinal cord astrocytes. The functional role of Nkx6.1 in homeostatic conditions remains unknown and in disease state also remains unknown. By leveraging immunohistochemistry, we identified the expression of Nkx6.1 in astrocytes of multiple sclerosis and ALS mouse models, suggesting that these astrocytes play a role in disease states. Indeed, we found that the Nkx6.1 cKO astrocytes become more reactive in multiple sclerosis and that Nkx6.1 expression is reduced in ventral spinal cord astrocytes of ALS mice compared to controls. ***This project was completed with contributions from Benjamin Deneen and Navish A. Bosquez Huerta from the Baylor College of Medicine.



Biochemistry, Neurosurgery