Bingham, S.M., Sittaramane, V., Mapp, O., Patil, S., Prince, V.E., and Chandrasekhar, A. (2010) Multiple mechanisms mediate motor neuron migration in the zebrafish hindbrain. Developmental Neurobiology. 70(2):87-99.
The transmembrane protein Van gogh-like 2 (Vangl2) is a component of the noncanonical Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) signaling pathway, and is required for tangential migration of facial branchiomotor neurons (FBMNs) from rhombomere 4 (r4) to r5-r7 in the vertebrate hindbrain. Since vangl2 is expressed throughout the zebrafish hindbrain, it might also regulate motor neuron migration in other rhombomeres. We tested this hypothesis by examining whether migration of motor neurons out of r2 following ectopic hoxb1b expression was affected in vangl2(-) (trilobite) mutants. Hoxb1b specifies r4 identity, and when ectopically expressed transforms r2 to an "r4-like" compartment. Using time-lapse imaging, we show that GFP-expressing motor neurons in the r2/r3 region of a hoxb1b-overexpressing wild-type embryo migrate along the anterior-posterior (AP) axis. Furthermore, these cells express prickle1b (pk1b), a Wnt/PCP gene that is specifically expressed in FBMNs and is essential for their migration. Importantly, GFP-expressing motor neurons in the r2/r3 region of hoxb1b-overexpressing trilobite mutants and pk1b morphants often migrate, even though FBMNs in r4 of the same embryos fail to migrate longitudinally (tangentially) into r6 and r7. These observations suggest that tangentially migrating motor neurons in the anterior hindbrain (r1-r3) can use mechanisms that are independent of vangl2 and pk1b functions. Interestingly, analysis of tri; val double mutants also suggests a role for vangl2-independent factors in neuronal migration, since the valentino mutation partially suppresses the trilobite mutant migration defect. Together, the hoxb1b and val experiments suggest that multiple mechanisms regulate motor neuron migration along the AP axis of the zebrafish hindbrain.