The nuclear factor I (NFI) family of transcription factors plays an important role in the development of the cerebral cortex in humans and mice. Disruption of nuclear factor IA (NFIA), nuclear factor IB (NFIB), or nuclear factor IX (NFIX) results in abnormal development of the corpus callosum, lateral ventricles, and hippocampus. However, the expression or function of these genes has not been examined in detail in the adult brain, and the cell type-specific expression of NFIA, NFIB, and NFIX is currently unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the expression of each NFI protein shows a distinct laminar pattern in the adult mouse neocortex and that their cell type-specific expression differs depending on the family member. NFIA expression was more frequently observed in astrocytes and oligodendroglia, whereas NFIB expression was predominantly localized to astrocytes and neurons. NFIX expression was most commonly observed in neurons. The NFI proteins were equally distributed within microglia, and the ependymal cells lining the ventricles of the brain expressed all three proteins. In the hippocampus, the NFI proteins were expressed during all stages of neural stem cell differentiation in the dentate gyrus, with higher expression intensity in neuroblast cells as compared to quiescent stem cells and mature granule neurons. These findings suggest that the NFI proteins may play distinct roles in cell lineage specification or maintenance, and establish the basis for further investigation of their function in the adult brain and their emerging role in disease.
Although protein-folding stress at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is emerging as a driver of neuronal dysfunction in models of spinal cord injury and neurodegeneration, the contribution of this pathway to peripheral nerve damage remains poorly explored. Here we targeted the unfolded protein response (UPR), an adaptive reaction against ER stress, in mouse models of sciatic nerve injury and found that ablation of the transcription factor XBP1, but not ATF4, significantly delay locomotor recovery. XBP1 deficiency led to decreased macrophage recruitment, a reduction in myelin removal and axonal regeneration. Conversely, overexpression of XBP1s in the nervous system in transgenic mice enhanced locomotor recovery after sciatic nerve crush, associated to an improvement in key pro-regenerative events. To assess the therapeutic potential of UPR manipulation to axonal regeneration, we locally delivered XBP1s or an shRNA targeting this transcription factor to sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia using a gene therapy approach and found an enhancement or reduction of axonal regeneration in vivo, respectively. Our results demonstrate a functional role of specific components of the ER proteostasis network in the cellular changes associated to regeneration and functional recovery after peripheral nerve injury.