Brain structure & function

Role of Shh in the development of molecularly characterized tegmental nuclei in mouse rhombomere 1.

PMID 23494735


Hindbrain rhombomeres in general are differentially specified molecularly by unique combinations of Hox genes with other developmental genes. Rhombomere 1 displays special features, including absence of Hox gene expression. It lies within the hindbrain range of the Engrailed genes (En1, En2), controlled by the isthmic organizer via diffusion of FGF8. It is limited rostrally by the isthmus territory, and caudally by rhombomere 2. It is double the normal size of any other rhombomere. Its dorsal part generates the cerebellar hemispheres and its ventral part gives rise to several populations, such as some raphe nuclei, the interpeduncular nucleus, the rhabdoid nucleus, anterior, dorsal, ventral and posterodorsal tegmental nuclei, the cholinergic pedunculopontine and laterodorsal tegmental nuclei, rostral parts of the hindbrain reticular formation, the locus coeruleus, and part of the lateral lemniscal and paralemniscal nuclei, among other formations. Some of these populations migrate tangentially before reaching their final positions. The morphogen Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) is normally released from the local floor plate and underlying notochord. In the present report we explore, first, whether Shh is required in the specification of these r1 populations, and, second, its possible role in the guidance of tangentially migrating neurons that approach the midline. Our results indicate that when Shh function is altered selectively in a conditional mutant mouse strain, most populations normally generated in the medial basal plate of r1 are completely absent. Moreover, the relocation of some neurons that normally originate in the alar plate and migrate tangentially into the medial basal plate is variously altered. In contrast, neurons that migrate radially (or first tangentially and then radially) into the lateral basal plate were not significantly affected.

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