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Science 313 (5792): 1408-1413

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Hoxa2- and Rhombomere-Dependent Development of the Mouse Facial Somatosensory Map

Franck Oury,1* Yasunori Murakami,1* Jean-Sebastien Renaud,2 Massimo Pasqualetti,1{dagger} Patrick Charnay,3 Shu-Yue Ren,1{ddagger} Filippo M. Rijli1§

Abstract: In the mouse trigeminal pathway, sensory inputs from distinct facial structures, such as whiskers or lower jaw and lip, are topographically mapped onto the somatosensory cortex through relay stations in the thalamus and hindbrain. In the developing hindbrain, the mechanisms generating such maps remain elusive. We found that in the principal sensory nucleus, the whisker-related map is contributed by rhombomere 3–derived neurons, whereas the rhombomere 2–derived progeny supply the lower jaw and lip representation. Moreover, early Hoxa2 expression in neuroepithelium prevents the trigeminal nerve from ectopically projecting to the cerebellum, whereas late expression in the principal sensory nucleus promotes selective arborization of whisker-related afferents and topographic connectivity to the thalamus. Hoxa2 inactivation further results in the absence of whisker-related maps in the postnatal brain. Thus, Hoxa2- and rhombomere 3–dependent cues determine the whisker area map and are required for the assembly of the whisker-to-barrel somatosensory circuit.

1 Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS/INSERM/Université Louis Pasteur, UMR 7104, BP 10142, Communauté Urbaine de Strasbourg, 67404 Illkirch Cedex, France.
2 Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical Science, University of Oslo, 0317 Oslo, Norway.
3 INSERM, U784, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, 75230 Paris Cedex 05, France.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} Present address: Laboratori di Biologia Cellulare e dello Sviluppo, Università di Pisa, Via G. Carducci 13, Pisa 56010, Italy.

{ddagger} Present address: Center for Biotechnology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.

§ To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rijli{at}

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