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Novartis Found Symp. 2000;228:53-61; discussion 61-6, 109-13.

Genetic control of regional identity in the developing vertebrate forebrain.

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DIBIT, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


In the past we isolated and characterized a number of vertebrate homeobox genes expressed in the developing brain. In particular, Emx1 and Emx2 are expressed in the developing forebrain of mouse embryos, in a region including the presumptive cerebral cortex. In the developing cerebral cortex, Emx1 is expressed in most neuroblasts and neurons at all stages of development, whereas Exm2 expression is restricted to proliferating neuroblasts of the so-called ventricular zone and to Cajal-Retzius cells, but is undetectable in most postmitotic cortical neurons. It is conceivable to hypothesize that Emx2 plays a role in the control of proliferation of cortical neuroblasts and in the regulation of their subsequent migration. This latter process has been recently analysed in some detail in null mutant mice. The expression of these and other genes has also been analysed in the developing brain of different species of vertebrates. Homologies between forebrain subdivisions have been proposed based on the conservation and divergence of gene expression patterns.

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