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Open AccessArticle

Gbx1 and Gbx2 Are Essential for Normal Patterning and Development of Interneurons and Motor Neurons in the Embryonic Spinal Cord

Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Section of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA
Neurona Therapeutics, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA
Cancer and Developmental Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702, USA
Division of Sciences and Mathematics, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(2), 9;
Received: 17 December 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2020 / Accepted: 26 March 2020 / Published: 1 April 2020
The molecular mechanisms regulating neurogenesis involve the control of gene expression by transcription factors. Gbx1 and Gbx2, two members of the Gbx family of homeodomain-containing transcription factors, are known for their essential roles in central nervous system development. The expression domains of mouse Gbx1 and Gbx2 include regions of the forebrain, anterior hindbrain, and spinal cord. In the spinal cord, Gbx1 and Gbx2 are expressed in PAX2+ interneurons of the dorsal horn and ventral motor neuron progenitors. Based on their shared domains of expression and instances of overlap, we investigated the functional relationship between Gbx family members in the developing spinal cord using Gbx1−/−, Gbx2−/−, and Gbx1−/−/Gbx2−/− embryos. In situ hybridization analyses of embryonic spinal cords show upregulation of Gbx2 expression in Gbx1−/− embryos and upregulation of Gbx1 expression in Gbx2−/− embryos. Additionally, our data demonstrate that Gbx genes regulate development of a subset of PAX2+ dorsal inhibitory interneurons. While we observe no difference in overall proliferative status of the developing ependymal layer, expansion of proliferative cells into the anatomically defined mantle zone occurs in Gbx mutants. Lastly, our data shows a marked increase in apoptotic cell death in the ventral spinal cord of Gbx mutants during mid-embryonic stages. While our studies reveal that both members of the Gbx gene family are involved in development of subsets of PAX2+ dorsal interneurons and survival of ventral motor neurons, Gbx1 and Gbx2 are not sufficient to genetically compensate for the loss of one another. Thus, our studies provide novel insight to the relationship harbored between Gbx1 and Gbx2 in spinal cord development. View Full-Text
Keywords: Gbx1; Gbx2; spinal cord; mouse; development Gbx1; Gbx2; spinal cord; mouse; development
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Buckley, D.M.; Burroughs-Garcia, J.; Kriks, S.; Lewandoski, M.; Waters, S.T. Gbx1 and Gbx2 Are Essential for Normal Patterning and Development of Interneurons and Motor Neurons in the Embryonic Spinal Cord. J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8, 9.

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