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Patterning the early vertebrate central nervous system


Understanding the mechanism whereby early neural induction signals activate evolutionarily conserved gene networks to generate the basic pattern of the animal central nervous system ( CNS) is a central unsolved problem in Developmental Neurobiology. The intention for this project is to co-ordinate the complementary expertises of five specialist partners who have already made outstanding contributions to this field to elucidate different but inter-connecting aspects of neural patterning.
We investigate how:
- The neural activation and transformation signals generate an antero-posterior pattern of differentiation in the early neural plate.
- The Otx and Emx gene families respond to these signals and mediate patterning of the forebrain.
- Hox genes and other regulatory gene families respond to these signals to mediate segmental patterning in the hindbrain.
- The irx gene family modulates the antero-posterior pattern of the CNS. - Hox genes regulate the functional architecture of the CNS by specifying motoneuron identities.
Each of these collaborative investigations involve extensive input from two or more partners, and the investigations themselves are strongly interconnected. We will exploit and compare at least two different vertebrate systems (mouse and Xenopus), to enable elucidation of universal principles. The question at issue has always been considered to be of paramount importance, but it is only now that experimental tools and theoretical concepts begin to be available to initiate this effort, and it is easy to predict an imminent explosion in this field. Europe has, so far, shown the way in this area of Developmental Neurobiology and we think that it is now essential to integrate our efforts in a concerted collaborative effort at the community level in order to exploit and build on past successes.

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8,uppsalalaan 8
3584 CT Utrecht

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EU contribution
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Participants (4)