, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 1165-1180

Gene Expression Profiling Within the Developing Neural Tube

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The developing mammalian nervous system is subject to devastating congenital malformations with clinical significance that extends into the billions of health care dollars annually worldwide. Neural tube defects (NTDs) are among the most common of all human congenital defects, yet their etiology remains poorly understood. This is largely due to the complexity of the genetic factors regulating the intricate events involved in neurulation. Using mouse model systems and the application of modern molecular biological technologies, we have recently gained a greater appreciation for the factors that not only regulate normal neural tube closure (NTC), but those genetic factors that predispose an embryo to significant birth defects such as anencephaly or spina bifida. We have selected prominent murine mutants, both spontaneous and genetically modified, as well as the use of teratogenic agents, to examine the impact of altering the normal pattern of gene expression in the developing neural tube.