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Development. 2013 Jun;140(11):2299-309. doi: 10.1242/dev.094524.

Inhibition of Sox2-dependent activation of Shh in the ventral diencephalon by Tbx3 is required for formation of the neurohypophysis.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


Tbx2 and Tbx3 are two highly related members of the T-box transcription factor gene family that regulate patterning and differentiation of a number of tissue rudiments in the mouse. Both genes are partially co-expressed in the ventral diencephalon and the infundibulum; however, a functional requirement in murine pituitary development has not been reported. Here, we show by genetic lineage tracing that Tbx2(+) cells constitute the precursor population of the neurohypophysis. However, Tbx2 is dispensable for neurohypophysis development as revealed by normal formation of this organ in Tbx2-deficient mice. By contrast, loss of Tbx3 from the ventral diencephalon results in a failure to establish the Tbx2(+) domain in this region, and a lack of evagination of the infundibulum and formation of the neurohypophysis. Rathke's pouch is severely hypoplastic, exhibits defects in dorsoventral patterning, and degenerates after E12.5. In Tbx3-deficient embryos, the ventral diencephalon is hyperproliferative and displays an abnormal cellular architecture, probably resulting from a failure to repress transcription of Shh. We further show that Tbx3 and Tbx2 repress Shh by sequestering the SRY box-containing transcription factor Sox2 away from a Shh forebrain enhancer (SBE2), thus preventing its activation. These data suggest that Tbx3 is required in the ventral diencephalon to establish a Shh(-) domain to allow formation of the infundibulum.


Diencephalon; Infundibulum; Neurohypophysis; Pituitary gland

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