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Dev Biol. 2003 Jan 15;253(2):200-13.

Autonomous and nonautonomous functions for Hox/Pbx in branchiomotor neuron development.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Basic Science, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


The vertebrate branchiomotor neurons are organized in a pattern that corresponds with the segments, or rhombomeres, of the developing hindbrain and have identities and behaviors associated with their position along the anterior/posterior axis. These neurons undergo characteristic migrations in the hindbrain and project from stereotyped exit points. We show that lazarus/pbx4, which encodes an essential Hox DNA-binding partner in zebrafish, is required for facial (VIIth cranial nerve) motor neuron migration and for axon pathfinding of trigeminal (Vth cranial nerve) motor axons. We show that lzr/pbx4 is required for Hox paralog group 1 and 2 function, suggesting that Pbx interacts with these proteins. Consistent with this, lzr/pbx4 interacts genetically with hoxb1a to control facial motor neuron migration. Using genetic mosaic analysis, we show that lzr/pbx4 and hoxb1a are primarily required cell-autonomously within the facial motor neurons; however, analysis of a subtle non-cell-autonomous effect indicates that facial motor neuron migration is promoted by interactions amongst the migrating neurons. At the same time, lzr/pbx4 is required non-cell-autonomously to control the pathfinding of trigeminal motor axons. Thus, Pbx/Hox can function both cell-autonomously and non-cell-autonomously to direct different aspects of hindbrain motor neuron behavior.

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