MEF2D expression increases during neuronal differentiation of neural progenitor cells and correlates with neurite length.


The myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) family of Ca(2+) -regulated transcription factors regulate neuronal development by controlling synapse formation and supporting the survival of newly formed neurons. MEF2 proteins could potentially also influence early aspects of neuronal differentiation such as neuronal fate specification and their subsequent morphological and functional maturation. We used immunocytochemistry to examine the expression of the isoform MEF2D during the differentiation of embryonic rat neural progenitor cells as a step towards evaluating the role of MEF2 factors in early events of neuronal differentiation. We show here that MEF2D is expressed in both proliferating neural precursor cells and in differentiated cells that acquire neuronal or glial phenotypes. However, in cells that adopt a neuronal phenotype, MEF2D expression in the nucleus increases progressively during the course of differentiation while decreasing in glial cells. Furthermore, in newly formed neurons the level of MEF2D expression correlates positively with the length of neurite projections.