The hypothalamus is a large brain region made of nuclei and areas involved in the control of behaviors and physiological regulations. Among them, the arcuate nucleus (ARH) and the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) contain key neuronal populations expressing the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), the agouti-related peptide (AgRP), and the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH), respectively, that are involved in goal-oriented behaviors (such as feeding behavior) and glucose homeostasis. These neuronal populations are generated from distinct parts of the germinative neuroepithelium during embryonic life, and acquire their cell fate under the influence of morphogen proteins, specific transcription factors, and epigenetic modulators. POMC and MCH neuronal development continues by sending long descending axonal projections before birth under the control of axon guidance molecules such as Netrin1 and Slit2. Later, during the postnatal period, POMC and AgRP neurons develop intra-hypothalamic projections notably to the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus through the influence of other axon guidance cues such as the class3 Semaphorins. Other cellular processes, such as autophagy and primary cilia function, and hormonal cues also appear critical for the proper development of POMC neurons.
Keywords: Development; Hypothalamus; Melanin-concentrating hormone; Melanocortin; Neuropeptide Y; Pro-opiomelanocortin.
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