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Neuron. 2001 Feb;29(2):367-84.

Control of interneuron fate in the developing spinal cord by the progenitor homeodomain protein Dbx1.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry and, Molecular Biophysics, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Spinal interneurons help to coordinate motor behavior. During spinal cord development, distinct classes of interneurons are generated from progenitor cells located at different positions within the ventral neural tube. V0 and V1 interneurons derive from adjacent progenitor domains that are distinguished by expression of the homeodomain proteins Dbx1 and Dbx2. The spatially restricted expression of Dbx1 has a critical role in establishing the distinction in V0 and V1 neuronal fate. In Dbx1 mutant mice, neural progenitors fail to generate V0 neurons and instead give rise to interneurons that express many characteristics of V1 neurons-their transcription factor profile, neurotransmitter phenotype, migratory pattern, and aspects of their axonal trajectory. Thus, a single progenitor homeodomain transcription factor coordinates many of the differentiated properties of one class of interneurons generated in the ventral spinal cord.

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