Morphogens in motion: growth control of the neural tube

Jordi Cayuso, Elisa Martí

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


The entire vertebrate nervous system develops from a simple epithelial sheet, the neural plate which, along development, acquires the large number and wide variety of neuronal cell types required for the construction of a functional mature nervous system. These include processes of growth and pattern formation of the neural tube that are achieved through complicated and tightly regulated genetic interactions. Pattern formation, particularly in the vertebrate central nervous system, is one of the best examples of a morphogen-type of function. Cell cycle progression, however, is generally accepted to be dependent on cell-intrinsic factors. Recent studies have demonstrated that proliferation of neural precursors is also somehow controlled by secreted signaling molecules, well-known by their role as morphogens, such as fibroblast growth factor (FGF), vertebrate orthologs of the Drosophila wingless (Wnt), hedgehog (Hh), and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) families, that in turn regulate the activity of factors controlling cell cycle progression. In this review we will summarize the experimental data that support the idea that classical morphogens can be reused to regulate proliferation of neural precursors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-387
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jul 2005
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2005


  • neural tube
  • early growth
  • precursor cell proliferation
  • fibroblast growth factor (FGF)
  • retinoic acid (RA)
  • Wnt proteins
  • Sonic hedghog (Shh)
  • bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)

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