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Embryonic genoarchitecture of the pretectum in Xenopus laevis: A conserved pattern in tetrapods



Networked gene activities control the evolutionarily conserved histogenetic organization of the central nervous system of vertebrates. Genoarchitectonic studies contribute to the analysis of each morphogenetic field by identifying distinct progenitor domains and corresponding derivatives whose pattern of gene expression shows a unique combinatory code. Previous studies in the pretectal region (caudal diencephalon) have defined three anteroposterior genoarchitectonic domains that are conserved in birds and mammals. Here, we have studied the embryonic pretectal genoarchitecture in the amphibian Xenopus laevis, in order to determine whether it is possible to define a comparable anteroposterior tripartition of the amphibian pretectal area. The expression patterns of 14 genes mapped from early embryonic stages to metamorphic climax allowed us to define the boundaries of the pretectum, the expected precommissural, juxtacommissural, and commissural anteroposterior domains, and some dorsoventral subdivisions. Taken together, our data provide evidence for a conserved pattern of pretectal domains and subdomains, shared by amniotes and amphibian anamniotes (tetrapods), understandable as part of a general Bauplan in vertebrates. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:1024–1050, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.