What pathways specify retinal ganglion cell (RGC) fate in the developing retina? Here we report on mechanisms by which a molecular pathway involving Sox4/Sox11 is required for RGC differentiation and for optic nerve formation in mice in vivo, and is sufficient to differentiate human induced pluripotent stem cells into electrophysiologically active RGCs. These data place Sox4 downstream of RE1 silencing transcription factor in regulating RGC fate, and further describe a newly identified, Sox4-regulated site for post-translational modification with small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMOylation) in Sox11, which suppresses Sox11‘s nuclear localization and its ability to promote RGC differentiation, providing a mechanism for the SoxC familial compensation observed here and elsewhere in the nervous system. These data define novel regulatory mechanisms for this SoxC molecular network, and suggest pro-RGC molecular approaches for cell replacement-based therapies for glaucoma and other optic neuropathies.
- Stem cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas