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Dev Biol. 1999 Jul 15;211(2):220-37.

The role of kreisler in segmentation during hindbrain development.

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Division of Developmental Neurobiology, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London, NW7 1AA, United Kingdom.


The mouse kreisler gene is expressed in rhombomeres (r) 5 and 6 during neural development and kreisler mutants have patterning defects in the hindbrain that are not fully understood. Here we analyzed this phenotype with a combination of genetic, molecular, and cellular marking techniques. Using Hox/lacZ transgenic mice as reporter lines and by analyzing Eph/ephrin expression, we have found that while r5 fails to form in these mice, r6 is present. This shows that kreisler has an early role in the formation of r5. We also observed patterning defects in r3 and r4 that are outside the normal domain of kreisler expression. In both heterozygous and homozygous kreisler embryos some r5 markers are induced in r3, suggesting that there is a partial change in r3 identity that is not dependent upon the loss of r5. To investigate the cellular character of r6 in kreisler embryos we performed heterotopic grafting experiments in the mouse hindbrain to monitor its mixing properties. Control experiments revealed that cells from even- or odd-numbered segments only mixed freely with themselves, but not with cells of opposite character. Transposition of cells from the r6 territory of kreisler mutants reveals that they adopt mature r6 characteristics, as they freely mix only with cells from even-numbered rhombomeres. Analysis of Phox2b expression shows that some aspects of later neurogenesis in r6 are altered, which may be associated with the additional roles of kreisler in regulating segmental identity. Together these results suggest that the formation of r6 has not been affected in kreisler mutants. This analysis has revealed phenotypic and mechanistic differences between kreisler and its zebrafish equivalent valentino. While valentino is believed to subdivide preexisting segmental units, in the mouse kreisler specifies a particular segment. The formation of r6 independent of r5 argues against a role of kreisler in prorhombomeric segmentation of the mouse hindbrain. We conclude that the mouse kreisler gene regulates multiple steps in segmental patterning involving both the formation of segments and their A-P identity.

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