Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE, 1(6), p. e15998
The transcription factor Lmx1b is essential for the differentiation and survival of central serotonergic (5-HTergic) neurons during embryonic development. However, the role of Lmx1b in adult 5-HTergic neurons is unknown. We used an inducible Cre-LoxP system to selectively inactivate Lmx1b expression in the raphe nuclei of adult mice. Pet1-CreER(T2) mice were generated and crossed with Lmx1b(flox/flox) mice to obtain Pet1-CreER(T2); Lmx1b(flox/flox) mice (which termed as Lmx1b iCKO). After administration of tamoxifen, the level of 5-HT in the brain of Lmx1b iCKO mice was reduced to 60% of that in control mice, and the expression of tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2), serotonin transporter (Sert) and vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (Vmat2) was greatly down-regulated. On the other hand, the expression of dopamine and norepinephrine as well as aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (Aadc) and Pet1 was unchanged. Our results reveal that Lmx1b is required for the biosynthesis of 5-HT in adult mouse brain, and it may be involved in maintaining normal functions of central 5-HTergic neurons by regulating the expression of Tph2, Sert and Vmat2.