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PloS one

Mosaic hoxb4a neuronal pleiotropism in zebrafish caudal hindbrain.


PMID 19536294

Abstract

To better understand how individual genes and experience influence behavior, the role of a single homeotic unit, hoxb4a, was comprehensively analyzed in vivo by clonal and retrograde fluorescent labeling of caudal hindbrain neurons in a zebrafish enhancer-trap YFP line. A quantitative spatiotemporal neuronal atlas showed hoxb4a activity to be highly variable and mosaic in rhombomere 7-8 reticular, motoneuronal and precerebellar nuclei with expression decreasing differentially in all subgroups through juvenile stages. The extensive Hox mosaicism and widespread pleiotropism demonstrate that the same transcriptional protein plays a role in the development of circuits that drive behaviors from autonomic through motor function including cerebellar regulation. We propose that the continuous presence of hoxb4a positive neurons may provide a developmental plasticity for behavior-specific circuits to accommodate experience- and growth-related changes. Hence, the ubiquitous hoxb4a pleitropism and modularity likely offer an adaptable transcriptional element for circuit modification during both growth and evolution.