NvPOU4/Brain3 Functions as a Terminal Selector Gene in the Nervous System of the Cnidarian Nematostella vectensis

Océane Tournière, David Dolan, Gemma Sian Richards, Kartik Sunagar, Yaara Y. Columbus-Shenkar, Yehu Moran, Fabian Rentzsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Terminal selectors are transcription factors that control the morphological, physiological, and molecular features that characterize distinct cell types. Here, we show that, in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, NvPOU4 is expressed in post-mitotic cells that give rise to a diverse set of neural cell types, including cnidocytes and NvElav1-expressing neurons. Morphological analyses of NvPOU4 mutants crossed to transgenic reporter lines show that the loss of NvPOU4 does not affect the initial specification of neural cells. Transcriptomes derived from the mutants and from different neural cell populations reveal that NvPOU4 is required for the execution of the terminal differentiation program of these neural cells. These findings suggest that POU4 genes have ancient functions as terminal selectors for morphologically and functionally disparate types of neurons and they provide experimental support for the relevance of terminal selectors for understanding the evolution of cell types.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4473-4489.e5
JournalCell Reports
Issue number13
StatePublished - 31 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors


  • Brn3
  • CRISPR mutant
  • Cnidaria
  • POU genes
  • Unc-86
  • cell type evolution
  • cnidocytes
  • neurogenesis
  • terminal selector
  • transgenic reporter


Dive into the research topics of 'NvPOU4/Brain3 Functions as a Terminal Selector Gene in the Nervous System of the Cnidarian Nematostella vectensis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this