The GATA-3 transcription factor shows a specific and restricted expression pattern in the developing and adult mouse brain. In the present study we investigated the role of GATA-3 in the caudal raphe system, which is known to operate as a modulator of motor activity. We demonstrate that virtually all neurons in the caudal raphe nuclei that express GATA-3 also produce serotonin. Absence of GATA-3, as analyzed in chimeric -/- mice, affects the cytoarchitecture of serotonergic neurons in the caudal raphe nuclei. As a result the chimeras show a serious defect in their locomotor performance on a rotating rod. In sum, we conclude that GATA-3 plays a major role in the development of the serotonergic neurons of the caudal raphe nuclei, and that it is crucial for their role in locomotion.
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