Hox genes and region-specific sensorimotor circuit formation in the hindbrain and spinal cord

Authors

  • Maria Di Bonito,

    1. University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France
    2. INSERM, iBV, UMR 1091, Nice, France
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  • Joel C. Glover,

    1. University of Oslo, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences (Domus Medica), Department of Physiology, Oslo, Norway
    2. Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Bergen High Technology Centre, Bergen, Norway
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  • Michèle Studer

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France
    2. INSERM, iBV, UMR 1091, Nice, France
    • Correspondence to: Michèle Studer, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, F-06108 Nice, France. E-mail: michele.studer@unice.fr

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  • This article was accepted for inclusion in the Special Issue on Hox/Tale Transcription Factors-Developmental Dynamics 243 #1

Abstract

Homeobox (Hox) genes were originally discovered in the fruit fly Drosophila, where they function through a conserved homeodomain as transcriptional regulators to control embryonic morphogenesis. In vertebrates, 39 Hox genes have been identified and like their Drosophila counterparts they are organized within chromosomal clusters. Hox genes interact with various cofactors, such as the TALE homeodomain proteins, in recognition of consensus sequences within regulatory elements of their target genes. In vertebrates, Hox genes display spatially restricted patterns of expression within the developing hindbrain and spinal cord, and are considered crucial determinants of segmental identity and cell specification along the anterioposterior and dorsoventral axes of the embryo. Here, we review their later roles in the assembly of neuronal circuitry, in stereotypic neuronal migration, axon pathfinding, and topographic connectivity. Importantly, we will put some emphasis on how their early-segmented expression patterns can influence the formation of complex vital hindbrain and spinal cord circuitries. Developmental Dynamics 242:1348–1368, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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