Establishing neuronal diversity in the spinal cord: a time and a place

Development. 2019 Nov 25;146(22):dev182154. doi: 10.1242/dev.182154.


The vertebrate spinal cord comprises multiple functionally distinct neuronal cell types arranged in characteristic positions. During development, these different types of neurons differentiate from transcriptionally distinct neural progenitors that are arrayed in discrete domains along the dorsal-ventral and anterior-posterior axes of the embryonic spinal cord. This organization arises in response to morphogen gradients acting upstream of a gene regulatory network, the architecture of which determines the spatial and temporal pattern of gene expression. In recent years, substantial progress has been made in deciphering the regulatory network that underlies the specification of distinct progenitor and neuronal cell identities. In this Review, we outline how distinct neuronal cell identities are established in response to spatial and temporal patterning systems, and outline novel experimental approaches to study the emergence and function of neuronal diversity in the spinal cord.

Keywords: Gene regulatory network; Hedgehog; Neural tube; Neurogenesis; Neuronal diversity; Patterning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning*
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Tube / embryology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spinal Cord / embryology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zebrafish