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J Comp Neurol. 2004 Sep 6;477(1):55-80.

Expression of regulatory genes during differentiation of thalamic nuclei in mouse and monkey.

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Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Expression patterns of genes implicated in development of the thalamus were examined in mice and monkeys, using in situ hybridization with RNA probes complementary to Cad6, Dlx1, Dlx2, Dlx5, Gbx2, Id2, and Lef1 cDNAs. Expression patterns were related to the evolving cytoarchitecture in mice at birth (P0) and in adulthood, and in fetal monkeys early and late in the period of gestation when thalamic nuclei are becoming histologically differentiated out of a series of pronuclear masses. At the earlier developmental stage, each gene was expressed in a pattern that appeared to be pronucleus-specific and maintained a nucleus-specific pattern into adulthood, with the possible exception of Gbx2. Each gene displayed a unique expression pattern in the dorsal thalamus, ventral thalamus, and epithalamus, and no gene was expressed throughout all three divisions or in every nucleus of a division. With the exception of Dlx2, whose expression disappeared at the later time point, all continued to be expressed into adulthood at higher levels and with identical patterns. Despite late appearance of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic cells in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of mice, no Dlx genes, which promote formation of a GABAergic phenotype elsewhere, were detected in dorsal thalamus. Each thalamic nucleus was distinguished by expression of a combination of genes, and homologous nuclei in mouse and monkey exhibited the same combination. The presence of a centre médian nucleus and four pulvinar nuclei in monkeys was marked by patterns of expression not found in mice. The centre médian nucleus was marked by high expression of Id2, which was expressed only weakly in very few nuclei of mice.

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