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Development November 1, 2003; 130 (21): 5191-201.

Hox3 genes coordinate mechanisms of genetic suppression and activation in the generation of branchial and somatic motoneurons.

Gaufo GO , Thomas KR , Capecchi MR .

In the developing hindbrain, the functional loss of individual Hox genes has revealed some of their roles in specifying rhombomere (r) identity. However, it is unclear how Hox genes act in concert to confer the unique identity to multiple rhombomeres. Moreover, it remains to be elucidated how these genes interact with other transcriptional programs to specify distinct neuronal lineages within each rhombomere. We demonstrate that in r5, the combined mutation of Hoxa3 and Hoxb3 result in a loss of Pax6- and Olig2-expressing progenitors that give rise to somatic motoneurons of the abducens nucleus. In r6, the absence of any combination of the Hox3 paralogous genes results in ectopic expression of the r4-specific determinant Hoxb1. This ectopic expression in turn results in the differentiation of r4-like facial branchiomotoneurons within this rhombomere. These studies reveal that members of the Hox1 and Hox3 paralogous groups participate in a ''Hox code'' that is necessary for coordinating both suppression and activation mechanisms that ensure distinction between the multiple rhombomeres in the developing hindbrain.

PubMed ID: 12954718
Article link: Development

Genes referenced: hoxa3 hoxb1 hoxb3 olig2 pax6

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