Infoscience

Journal article

[Genetic control of rhombencephalon development by Hox genes studied in bird embryo by the quail-chick chimera method]

The rhombencephalic neural tube is transiently segmented along the anteroposterior axis into 8 rhombomeres. Each rhombomere, as well as its derived neural crest cells, is characterized by the expression of a specific set of Hox genes which constitute its Hox code. This code is supposed to define the morphogenetic program of these cells according to their position. We took advantage of the quail/chick chimera system to study the regulation of Hox gene expression in neural tube and neural crest cells. We have therefore ectopically transplanted the presumptive territories of the future rhombomeres and studied the evolution of their Hox code. We evidence in the posterior rhombencephalon and the spinal cord a posteriorising signal able to induce Hox gene expression, to repress anterior molecular markers and to control the subsequent development of the neural tube. This signal is conveyed horizontally in the plane of the neuroepithelium and vertically from the mesoderm to the ectoderm. The anteroposterior identity of the neural crest cells seem independent from this inducer after formation of the neural fold.

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