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Conserved and novel roles for the Gsh2 transcription factor in primary neurogenesis

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Publication details

DatePublished - 15 Aug 2010
Issue number16
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)2623-2631
Original languageEnglish


The Gsx genes encode members of the ParaHox family of homeodomain transcription factors, which are expressed in the developing central nervous system in members of all major groups of bilaterians. The Gsx genes in Xenopus show similar patterns of expression to their mammalian homologues during late development. However, they are also expressed from early neurula stages in an intermediate region of the open neural plate where primary interneurons form. The Gsx homologue in the protostome Drosophila is expressed in a corresponding intermediate region of the embryonic neuroectoderm, and is essential for the correct specification of the neuroblasts that arise from it, suggesting that Gsx genes may have played a role in intermediate neural specification in the last common bilaterian ancestor. Here, we show that manipulation of Gsx function disrupts the differentiation of primary interneurons. We demonstrate that, despite their similar expression patterns, the uni-directional system of interactions between homeodomain transcription factors from the Msx, Nkx and Gsx families in the Drosophila neuroectoderm is not conserved between their homologues in the Xenopus open neural plate. Finally, we report the identification of Dbx1 as a direct target of Gsh2-mediated transcriptional repression, and show that a series of cross-repressive interactions, reminiscent of those that exist in the amniote neural tube, act between Gsx, Dbx and Nkx transcription factors to pattern the medial aspect of the central nervous system at open neural plate stages in Xenopus.

    Research areas

  • Animals, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Neural Plate, Neurogenesis, Transcription Factors, Xenopus Proteins, Xenopus laevis

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