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Prenat Diagn. 2009 Apr;29(4):303-11. doi: 10.1002/pd.2206.

Development of the vertebrate central nervous system: formation of the neural tube.

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Neural Development Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK.


The developmental process of neurulation involves a series of coordinated morphological events, which result in conversion of the flat neural plate into the neural tube, the primordium of the entire central nervous system (CNS). Failure of neurulation results in neural tube defects (NTDs), severe abnormalities of the CNS, which are among the commonest of congenital malformations in humans. In order to gain insight into the embryological basis of NTDs, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, it is necessary to understand the morphogenetic processes and molecular mechanisms underlying neural tube closure. The mouse is the most extensively studied mammalian experimental model for studies of neurulation, while considerable insight into underlying developmental mechanisms has also arisen from studies in other model systems, particularly birds and amphibians. We describe the process of neural tube formation, discuss the cellular mechanisms involved and highlight recent findings that provide links between molecular signaling pathways and morphogenetic tissue movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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