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Genes Dev. 2006 Feb 15;20(4):429-34.

Regulation of neuroblast competence: multiple temporal identity factors specify distinct neuronal fates within a single early competence window.

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  • 1University of Oregon Department of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Eugene, Oregon 97403, USA.


Cellular competence is an essential but poorly understood aspect of development. Is competence a general property that affects multiple signaling pathways (e.g., chromatin state), or is competence specific for each signaling pathway (e.g., availability of cofactors)? Here we find that Drosophila neuroblast 7-1 (NB7-1) has a single early window of competence to respond to four different temporal identity genes (Hunchback, Krüppel, Pdm, and Castor); that each of these factors specifies distinct motor neuron identities within this competence window but not outside it; and that progressive restriction to respond to Hunchback and Krüppel occurs within this window. Our work raises the possibility that multiple competence windows may allow the same factors to generate different cell types within the same lineage.

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