Prior to rhombomere development, structures called prorhombomeres appear in the mammalian hindbrain. This study clarifies the developmental relationship between prorhombomeres and their descendent rhombomeres and hindbrain crest cells in mouse embryos by focal dye injections at various levels of prorhombomere A (proRhA), proRhB, and proRhC, as well as at their boundaries. ProRhA gives rise to two rhombomeres, rhombomeres 1 and 2 (r1 and r2), as well as to crest cells that migrate into the first pharyngeal arch, including the trigeminal ganglion. ProRhB develops into r3 and r4 and produces crest cells populating the second arch and acousticofacial ganglion. The anterior portion of proRhC gives rise to r5 and r6 and to crest cells migrating into the third pharyngeal arch and the IXth ganglion; its posterior portion develops into r7 and releases crest cells into the fourth pharyngeal arch region as well as the Xth ganglion. These results suggest that the boundaries between prorhombomeres serve as lineage restrictions for both hind-brain neuroepithelial cells and for segmental origins of crest cell populations in mouse embryos. The Hox code of the mouse head can be schematized in a much simpler way based on this prorhombomeric organization of the hind-brain, suggesting that prorhombomeres primarily underlie mammalian hind-brain segmentation.
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