Abnormal expression of E2F1 and E2F4 results in hyperproliferation of the ependyma and lethal hydrocephalus

Diana R Medrano, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The proliferative role of E2F has been under investigation for several years. However, while it is known that E2F1 and E2F4 play a part in development and differentiation, research has not been centered on determining the exact functions these E2Fs play in brain development, given there high expression levels throughout embryogenesis. A GFAP-E2F1 mouse model directing human E2F1 transgene expression to glial cells, such as ependymal cells, was used in the present study in combination with an E2F4 mutant mouse model. Interestingly, 20% of tgE2F1; E2F4 null mice developed a phenotype consisting of domed head, hunched posture, seizures, tremors, hyperactivity or hypeactivity, dysnea, and low body weight. These mice died during the first three weeks of severe hydrocephalus. Similarly, tgE2F1; E2F4 heterozygous mice also develop severe hydrocephalus, although this occurs at 6 weeks at a 2% frequency. Pathological examination of the brains of those animals uncovered enlarged cerebral ventricles with marked thinning of the cerebral cortices, confirming the diagnosis of three-ventricle hydrocephalus, and the absence of tumors. Careful examination of the aqueduct shows an excess of proliferating cells that may cause a blockage of CSF. Of significance, 44% of ependymal cells in hydrocephalic tgE2F1;E2F4-/- mouse brains were positive for BrdU incorporation. Studies determining the molecular rationale for the hydrocephalic phenotype suggest proliferative ependymal cells may not be exclusively related to dysregulated cell cycle in conjuction with E2F activity. Due in part to the deficiency of E2F4 in this mouse model, we find that differentiation of these ependymal cells is not complete and instead undergoes maturation arrest. This suggestion is confirmed by the expression of genes found in neural stem cells or precursor cell populations, in the ependymal cell region of tgE2F1; E2F4-/-. Therefore, from this study, we conclude that dysregulated E2F1 expression in combination with deficient E2F4 expression results in an undifferentiated ependymal cell population that is hyperproliferative in the ventricular system causing an impediment of CSF circulation. It is further concluded that normal E2F1 and E2F4 expression in brain development is crucial for the proper formation and function of the ventricular system.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Medrano, Diana R, "Abnormal expression of E2F1 and E2F4 results in hyperproliferation of the ependyma and lethal hydrocephalus" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3231743.