Immunocytochemical labeling for tyrosine hydroxylase and [3H]thymidine autoradiography were combined in wild-type mice and in mice homozygous for the weaver mutant gene (wv) to see whether the neurogenetic patterns of midbrain dopaminergic neurons was normal in the mutants and whether the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons was linked to their time of origin. Dams of wild-type and homozygous weaver mice were injected with [3H]thymidine on embryonic days (E) 11-E12, E12-E13, E13-E14, and E14-E15 to label neurons in the retrorubral field, the substantia nigra pars compacta, the ventral tegmental area, and the interfascicular nucleus as they were being generated. The quantitatively determined time of origin profiles indicated that wv/wv mice have the same time span of neurogenesis as +/+ mice (E10 to E14), but have significant deficits in the proportion of late-generated neurons in each dopaminergic population. In the retrorubral field and substantia nigra, weaver homozygotes had substantial losses of dopaminergic neurons and had a greater deficit in the proportion of neurons generated late while, in the ventral tegmental area and interfascicular nucleus, there were slight losses of dopaminergic neurons and only slight deficits in the proportion of late-generated neurons. These findings lead to the conclusion that the weaver gene is specifically targeting dopaminergic neurons that are generated late, mainly on E13 and E14.
- [H]thymidine autoradiography
- Interfascicular nucleus
- Retrorubral field, ventral tegmental area
- Substantianigra pars compacta
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