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Development. 1997 Jul;124(14):2709-18.

Inductive interactions direct early regionalization of the mouse forebrain.

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Department of Psychiatry and Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California at San Francisco, 94143-0984, USA.


The cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate regional specification of the forebrain are largely unknown. We studied the expression of transcription factors in neural plate explants to identify tissues, and the molecules produced by these tissues, that regulate medial-lateral and local patterning of the prosencephalic neural plate. Molecular properties of the medial neural plate are regulated by the prechordal plate perhaps through the action of Sonic Hedgehog. By contrast, gene expression in the lateral neural plate is regulated by non-neural ectoderm and bone morphogenetic proteins. This suggests that the forebrain employs the same medial-lateral (ventral-dorsal) patterning mechanisms present in the rest of the central nervous system. We have also found that the anterior neural ridge regulates patterning of the anterior neural plate, perhaps through a mechanism that is distinct from those that regulate general medial-lateral patterning. The anterior neural ridge is essential for expression of BF1, a gene encoding a transcription factor required for regionalization and growth of the telencephalic and optic vesicles. In addition, the anterior neural ridge expresses Fgf8, and recombinant FGF8 protein is capable of inducing BF1, suggesting that FGF8 regulates the development of anterolateral neural plate derivatives. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the neural plate is subdivided into distinct anterior-posterior domains that have different responses to the inductive signals from the prechordal plate, Sonic Hedgehog, the anterior neural ridge and FGF8. In sum, these results suggest that regionalization of the forebrain primordia is established by several distinct patterning mechanisms: (1) anterior-posterior patterning creates transverse zones with differential competence within the neural plate, (2) patterning along the medial-lateral axis generates longitudinally aligned domains and (3) local inductive interactions, such as a signal(s) from the anterior neural ridge, further define the regional organization.

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