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Keywords:

  • LIM-homeodomain;
  • pallium;
  • subpallium;
  • ventral pallium;
  • diencephalon;
  • homology

Abstract

We have investigated the expression patterns of five LIM-homeodomain (LIM-hd) genes, x-Lhx1, x-Lhx2, x-Lhx5, x-Lhx7, and x-Lhx9 in the forebrain of the frog Xenopus laevis during larval development and in the adult. The results were analyzed in terms of neuromeric organization of the amphibian brain and of combinatorial LIM-hd code and showed that LIM-hd developmental transcription factors are particularly powerful to highlight the coherence of several groups or nuclei, to delineate subdivisions, and/or to clarify structures that are still a matter of debate. Among other findings, we bring substantial evidence for the following: (1) a dual origin of olfactory bulb neurons, based on x-Lhx5 expression; (2) the existence of a ventral pallium in frog, based on x-Lhx9 expression; (3) a multiple (pallial and subpallial) origin for the nuclei of the amygdaloid complex, based on distinct combinations of the five studied genes; (4) a clear homology between the Xenopus medial pallium and the mammalian hippocampus, based on x-Lhx2 pattern; and (5) a confirmed prosomeric organization of the diencephalon, based on alternating x-Lhx1/5 and x-Lhx2/9 expressions. In addition, the important expression levels for LIM-hd factors found throughout development and in the adult brain suggest a role for these genes in development and maintenance of neuronal specification and phenotype, as for example in the case of x-Lhx7 and cholinergic neurons. Moreover, following LIM-hd patterns throughout development points out to some of the migrations and morphogenetic movements, which give rise to the adult structures. Finally, the detailed description of the LIM-hd code in the developing and adult Xenopus forebrain provides interesting cues for the possible mechanisms of evolution of the vertebrate forebrain. J. Comp. Neurol. 472:52–72, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.