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Brain Res Rev. 2007 Jan;53(1):17-26. Epub 2006 Jul 31.

Patterning the developing diencephalon.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Abramson Research Center, Rm. 516h, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States.


The diencephalon is the embryonic precursor to the caudal forebrain. The major diencephalic derivative is the thalamus, which functions as a relay station between the cortex and lower nervous system structures. Although the diencephalon has been recognized as a vital brain region, our understanding of its development remains superficial. In this review, we discuss recent progresses in understanding one essential aspect of diencephalic development, diencephalic patterning. Signaling centers identified in the zona limitans intrathalamica and along the dorsal and ventral midlines have emerged as essential organizers in diencephalic patterning. The cumulative data reveal that the diencephalon shares some developmental principles with more caudal brain regions, whereas other mechanisms are unique to this region.

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