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Development. 2005 Apr;132(8):1971-81.

New regulatory interactions and cellular responses in the isthmic organizer region revealed by altering Gbx2 expression.

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1
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Developmental Genetics Program, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA. jali@uchc.edu

Abstract

The mouse homeobox gene Gbx2 is first expressed throughout the posterior region of the embryo during gastrulation, and becomes restricted to rhombomeres 1-3 (r1-3) by embryonic day 8.5 (E8.5). Previous studies have shown that r1-3 do not develop in Gbx2 mutants and that there is an early caudal expansion of the midbrain gene Otx2 to the anterior border of r4. Furthermore, expression of Wnt1 and Fgf8, two crucial components of the isthmic organizer, is no longer segregated to adjacent domains in Gbx2 mutants. In this study, we extend the phenotypic analysis of Gbx2 mutants by showing that Gbx2 is not only required for development of r1-3, but also for normal gene expression in r4-6. To determine whether Gbx2 can alter hindbrain development, we generated Hoxb1-Gbx2 (HG) transgenic mice in which Gbx2 is ectopically expressed in r4. We show that Gbx2 is not sufficient to induce r1-3 development in r4. To test whether an Otx2/Gbx2 interface can induce r1-3 development, we introduced the HG transgene onto a Gbx2-null mutant background and recreated a new Otx2/Gbx2 border in the anterior hindbrain. Development of r3, but not r1 and r2, is rescued in Gbx2-/-; HG embryos. In addition, the normal spatial relationship of Wnt1 and Fgf8 is established at the new Otx2/Gbx2 border, demonstrating that an interaction between Otx2 and Gbx2 is sufficient to produce the normal pattern of Wnt1 and Fgf8 expression. However, the expression domains of Fgf8 and Spry1, a downstream target of Fgf8, are greatly reduced in mid/hindbrain junction area of Gbx2-/-; HG embryos and the posterior midbrain is truncated because of abnormal cell death. Interestingly, we show that increased cell death and a partial loss of the midbrain are associated with increased expression of Fgf8 and Spry1 in Gbx2 conditional mutants that lack Gbx2 in r1 after E9.0. These results together suggest that cell survival in the posterior midbrain is positively or negatively regulated by Fgf8, depending on Fgf8 expression level. Our studies provide new insights into the regulatory interactions that maintain isthmic organizer gene expression and the consequences of altered levels of organizer gene expression on cell survival.

PMID:
15790971
DOI:
10.1242/dev.01727
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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