Meningeal-derived retinoic acid regulates neurogenesis via suppression of Notch and Sox2

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The meninges act as a regulator of brain development by secreting ligands that act on neural cells to regulate neurogenesis and neuronal migration. Meningeal-derived retinoic acid (RA) promotes neocortical neural progenitor cell cycle exit; however, the underlying molecular mechanism is unknown. Here, we used spatial transcriptomics and profiling of retinoic-acid receptor-α (RARα) DNA binding in Foxc1 -mutant embryos that lack meninges-derived ligands to identify the neurogenic transcriptional mechanisms of RA signaling in telencephalic neural progenitors. We determined that meningeal-derived RA controls neurogenesis by suppressing progenitor self-renewal pathways Notch signaling and the transcription factor Sox2. We show that RARα binds in the Sox2ot promoter, a long non-coding RNA that regulates Sox2 expression, and RA promotes Sox2ot expression in neocortical progenitors. Our findings elucidate a previously unknown mechanism of how meningeal RA coordinates neocortical development and insight into how defects in meningeal development may cause neurodevelopmental disorders.

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