Review of the neuroanatomic landscape implicated in glucose sensing and regulation of nutrient signaling: Immunophenotypic localization of diabetes gene Tcf7l2 in the developing murine brain

Cyprian Weaver, Nolan Turner, Jennifer Hall

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2 Scopus citations


Genetic variants in the transcription factor 7-like 2(Tcf7l2) gene have been found to confer a significant risk of type 2 diabetes and attenuated insulin secretion. Based on its genomic wide association Tcf7l2 is considered the single most important predictor of diabetes to date. Previous studies of Tcf7l2 mRNA localization in the adult brain suggest a putative role of Tcf7l2 in the CNS regulation of energy homeostasis. The present study further characterizes the immunophenotypic distribution of peptide expression in the brains of Tcf7l2 progeny during developmental time periods between E12.5 and P1. Tcf7l2-/- is lethal beyond P1. Results show that while negligible TCF7L2 expression is found in the developing brains of Tcf7l2-/-mice, TCF7L2 protein is relatively widespread and robustly expressed in the brain by E18.5 and exhibits specific expression within neuronal populations and regions of the brain in Tcf7l2+/- and Tcf7l2+/+ progeny. Strong immunophenotypic labeling was found in the diencephalic structure of the thalamus that suggests a role of Tcf7l2 in the development and maintenance of thalamic activity. Strongly expressed TCF7L2 was localized in select hypothalamic and preoptic nuclei indicative of Tcf7l2 function within neurons controlling energy balance. Definitive neuronal staining for TCF7L2 within nuclei of the brain stem and circumventricular organs extends TCF7L2 localization within autonomic neurons and its potential integration with autonomic function. In addition robust TCF7L2 expression was found in the tectal and tegmental structures of the superior and inferior colliculi as well as transient expression in neuroepithelium of the cerebral and hippocampal cortices of E16 and E18.5. Patterns of TCF7L2 peptide localization when compared to the adult protein synthetic chemical/anatomical landscape of glucose sensing exhibit a good correlational fit between its expression and regions, nuclei, and pathways regulating energy homeostasis via integration and response to peripheral endocrine, metabolic and neuronal signaling. TCF was also found co-localized with peptides that regulate energy homeostasis including AgRP, POMC and NPY. TCF7l2, some variants of which have been shown to impair GLP-1-induced insulin secretion, was also found co-localize with GLP-1 in adult TCF wild type progeny. Impaired Tcf7l2-mediated neural regulation may contribute to the risk and/or underlying pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes that has found high expression in genomic studies of Tcf7l2 variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant NIH-1R21 DK078029-01 .


  • Developing brain
  • Embryonic development
  • Glucose sensing
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neural development
  • Neuroanatomy
  • TCF7L2 peptide
  • Tcf7l2 gene
  • Transcription factor 7-like 2
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


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