Hoxa2 and Hoxb2 control dorsoventral patterns of neuronal development in the rostral hindbrain.
Little is known about how the generation of specific neuronal types at stereotypic positions within the hindbrain is linked to Hox gene-mediated patterning. Here, we show that during neurogenesis, Hox paralog group 2 genes control both anteroposterior (A-P) and dorsoventral (D-V) patterning. Hoxa2 and Hoxb2 differentially regulate, in a rhombomere-specific manner, the expression of several genes in broad D-V-restricted domains or narrower longitudinal columns of neuronal progenitors, immature neurons, and differentiating neuronal subtypes. Moreover, Hoxa2 and Hoxb2 can functionally synergize in controlling the development of ventral neuronal subtypes in rhombomere 3 (r3). Thus, in addition to their roles in A-P patterning, Hoxa2 and Hoxb2 have distinct and restricted functions along the D-V axis during neurogenesis, providing insights into how neuronal fates are assigned at stereotypic positions within the hindbrain.