Distinct populations of GABAergic neurons in mouse rhombomere 1 express but do not require the homeodomain transcription factor PITX2

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2012 Jan;49(1):32-43. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2011.08.011. Epub 2011 Sep 10.


Hindbrain rhombomere 1 (r1) is located caudal to the isthmus, a critical organizer region, and rostral to rhombomere 2 in the developing mouse brain. Dorsal r1 gives rise to the cerebellum, locus coeruleus, and several brainstem nuclei, whereas cells from ventral r1 contribute to the trochlear and trigeminal nuclei as well as serotonergic and GABAergic neurons of the dorsal raphe. Recent studies have identified several molecular events controlling dorsal r1 development. In contrast, very little is known about ventral r1 gene expression and the genetic mechanisms regulating its formation. Neurons with distinct neurotransmitter phenotypes have been identified in ventral r1 including GABAergic, serotonergic, and cholinergic neurons. Here we show that PITX2 marks a distinct population of GABAergic neurons in mouse embryonic ventral r1. This population appears to retain its GABAergic identity even in the absence of PITX2. We provide a comprehensive map of markers that places these PITX2-positive GABAergic neurons in a region of r1 that intersects and is potentially in communication with the dorsal raphe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cerebellum / embryology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • GABAergic Neurons / classification
  • GABAergic Neurons / cytology
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rhombencephalon / cytology*
  • Rhombencephalon / embryology
  • Rhombencephalon / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • homeobox protein PITX2