Foxg1 masters telencephalic development via a pleiotropic control over its progression. Expressed within the central nervous system (CNS), L1 retrotransposons are implicated in progression of its histogenesis and tuning of its genomic plasticity. Foxg1 represses gene transcription, and L1 elements share putative Foxg1 binding motifs, suggesting the former might limit telencephalic expression (and activity) of the latter. We tested such prediction, in vivo as well as in engineered primary neural cultures, by loss- and gain-of-function approaches. We showed that Foxg1-dependent, transcriptional L1 repression specifically occurs in neopallial neuronogenic progenitors and post-mitotic neurons, where it is supported by specific changes in the L1 epigenetic landscape. Unexpectedly, we discovered that Foxg1 physically interacts with L1-mRNA and positively regulates neonatal neopallium L1-DNA content, antagonizing the retrotranscription-suppressing activity exerted by Mov10 and Ddx39a helicases. To the best of our knowledge, Foxg1 represents the first CNS patterning gene acting as a bimodal retrotransposon modulator, limiting transcription of L1 elements and promoting their amplification, within a specific domain of the developing mouse brain.

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