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Development. 2001 Jun;128(12):2199-208.

Hindbrain patterning involves graded responses to retinoic acid signalling.

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MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK.


Several recent studies have shown that retinoic acid signalling is required for correct patterning of the hindbrain. However, the data from these studies are disparate and the precise role of retinoic acid signalling in patterning the anteroposterior axis of the neural tube remains uncertain. To help clarify this issue, we have cultured a staged series of chick embryos in the presence of an antagonist to the all three retinoic acid receptors. Our data indicate that retinoic acid is the transforming signal involved in the expansion of posterior hindbrain structures. We find that the hindbrain region of the neural tube down to the level of the sixth somite acquires the identity of rhombomere 4 when retinoic acid signalling is blocked. Specification of future rhombomere boundaries has a retinoic acid dependency between stage 5 and stage 10(+) that is lost progressively in an anterior-to-posterior sequence. Furthermore, the application of various concentrations of antagonist shows that successively more posterior rhombomere boundaries require progressively higher concentration of endogenous retinoic acid for their correct positioning, a result that strengthens the hypothesis that a complex retinoid gradient acts to pattern the posterior hindbrain. Our dissection of early retinoic acid functions allows us to re-interpret the wide disparity of hindbrain phenotypes previously observed in various models of retinoic acid deficiency.

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