A subset of ventral spinal cord precursors,knownaspMNprecursor cells, initially generatemotorneuronsandthen oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), which migrate and differentiate as myelinating oligodendrocytes in the developing neural tube. The switch between motor neuron and oligodendrocyte production by the pMN neural precursors is an important step in building a functional nervous system. However, the precise mechanism that orchestrates the sequential generation of motor neurons and oligodendrocytes within thecommonpopulation ofpMN precursors is still unclear.Thecurrent study demonstrates that Indian Hedgehogb(Ihhb), previouslyknownas Echidna Hedgehog, begins to be expressed in the floor plate cells of the ventral spinal cord at the time of OPC specification in zebrafish embryos. Ihhb loss-of-function analysis revealed that Ihhb function is required for OPC specification from pMN precursors by negatively regulating the proliferation of neural precursors. Finally, results showed that Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) could not replace Ihhb function inOPCspecification, suggesting that Ihhb and Shh play separate roles in OPC specification. Altogether, data from the present study suggested a novel mechanism, mediated by Ihhb, for the sequential generation of motor neurons and oligodendrocytes frompMNprecursors in the ventral spinal cord of zebrafish embryos.
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