BACKGROUND: Capricious is a Drosophila adhesion molecule that regulates specific targeting of a subset of motor neurons to their muscle target. We set out to identify whether one of its vertebrate homologues, Lrrn2, might play an analogous role in the chick.
RESULTS: We have shown that Lrrn2 is expressed from early development in the prospective rhombomere 4 (r4) of the chick hindbrain. Subsequently, its expression in the hindbrain becomes restricted to a specific group of motor neurons, the branchiomotor neurons of r4, and their pre-muscle target, the second branchial arch (BA2), along with other sites outside the hindbrain. Misexpression of the signalling molecule Sonic hedgehog (Shh) via in ovo electroporation results in upregulation of Lrrn2 exclusively in r4, while the combined expression of Hoxb1 and Shh is sufficient to induce ectopic Lrrn2 in r1/2. Misexpression of Lrrn2 in r2/3 results in axonal rerouting from the r2 exit point to the r4 exit point and BA2, suggesting a direct role in motor axon guidance.
CONCLUSION: Lrrn2 acts downstream of Hoxb1 and plays a role in the selective targeting of r4 motor neurons to BA2.
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