The zebrafish pineal complex consists of four cell types (rod and cone photoreceptors, projection neurons and parapineal neurons) that are derived from a single pineal complex anlage. After specification, parapineal neurons migrate unilaterally away from the rest of the pineal complex whereas rods, cones and projection neurons are non-migratory. The transcription factor Tbx2b is important for both the correct number and migration of parapineal neurons. We find that two additional transcription factors, Flh and Nr2e3, negatively regulate parapineal formation. Flh induces non-migratory neuron fates and limits the extent of parapineal specification, in part by activation of Nr2e3 expression. Tbx2b is positively regulated by Flh, but opposes Flh action during specification of parapineal neurons. Loss of parapineal neuron specification in Tbx2b-deficient embryos can be partially rescued by loss of Nr2e3 or Flh function; however, parapineal migration absolutely requires Tbx2b activity. We conclude that cell specification and migration in the pineal complex are regulated by a network of at least three transcription factors.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.