Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by focal degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Autosomal dominantly inherited mutations of the progranulin gene (GRN) have been identified as the cause of a subset of cases of familial FTLD. In order to better understand the function of progranulin in the central nervous system (CNS), we have assessed the spatiotemporal expression pattern of both the murine progranulin gene (Grn) and the protein (Grn) by using transgenic knock-in mice expressing a reporter gene from the Grn locus and by immunohistochemistry, respectively. We compared Grn expression with a panel of established markers for distinct neuronal developmental stages and specific cell lineages at time points ranging from embryonic day 13.5 through to the mature adult. We find that Grn is expressed in both neurons and microglia within the CNS, but that it shows a different developmental expression pattern in each cell type. Grn expression in neurons increases as the cells mature, whereas expression in microglia varies with the cells' state of activation, being specifically upregulated in microglia in response to excitotoxic injury. Our results suggest that progranulin plays distinct roles in neurons and microglia, both of which likely contribute to overall neuronal health and function.
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