The transcription factor gene Nfib is essential for both lung maturation and brain development.
The phylogenetically conserved nuclear factor I (NFI) gene family encodes site-specific transcription factors essential for the development of a number of organ systems. We showed previously that Nfia-deficient mice exhibit agenesis of the corpus callosum and other forebrain defects, whereas Nfic-deficient mice have agenesis of molar tooth roots and severe incisor defects. Here we show that Nfib-deficient mice possess unique defects in lung maturation and exhibit callosal agenesis and forebrain defects that are similar to, but more severe than, those seen in Nfia-deficient animals. In addition, loss of Nfib results in defects in basilar pons formation and hippocampus development that are not seen in Nfia-deficient mice. Heterozygous Nfib-deficient animals also exhibit callosal agenesis and delayed lung maturation, indicating haploinsufficiency at the Nfib locus. The similarity in brain defects in Nfia- and Nfib-deficient animals suggests that these two genes may cooperate in late fetal forebrain development, while Nfib is essential for late fetal lung maturation and development of the pons.