Emx1,Emx2andPax6in Specification, Regionalization and Arealization of the Cerebral Cortex

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Three basic aspects of cerebral cortex development — specification of cortical versus ganglionic identity, regionalization of the early cortical primordium and arealization of the developing cortex — were the main subject of our recent investigations. We previously demonstrated that the two homeobox genesEmx2andPax6promote development of caudal–medial and rostral–lateral cortex, respectively, by properly shaping the early cortical protomap and possibly modulating the tangential growth ratio between medial and lateral cortical anlagen. More recently, by analyzing the brains of embryos bearing mutations forEmx2andPax6in different combinations, we found that both genes are necessary and sufficient for a more basic developmental choice, i.e. the specification of neuroblasts in the dorsal telencephalon as cortical versus ganglionic neuroblasts. Finally, we explored the possible roles of theEmx2paralog,Emx1, in these processes. By looking at embryos mutant forEmx1,Emx2andPax6in various combinations, we did not get any evidence ofEmx1involvement in the process of cortical specification; conversely, this gene appeared to be involved to some extent in the process of regionalization of the cortical primordium along the medial–lateral axis, as a promoter of medial fates.

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