Passing through several relay stations in the brain, sensory signals from the face are received in the somatosensory cortex of the brain in a spatial organization roughly reflecting that of the signal's origins. Oury et al. now show that in one of the relay stations in mice, the PrV nucleus, expression of Hox genes during development helps maintain the map and allows, for example, the discrimination of signals from the whiskers, upper jaw, and lower jaw.
F. Oury, Y. Murakami, J.-S. Renaud, M. Pasqualetti, P. Charnay, S.-Y. Ren, F. M. Rijli, Hoxa2- and rhombomere-dependent development of the mouse facial somatosensory map. Science 313, 1408-1413 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]