Scientists identify signals that regulate the formation of spinal marrow

A team of researchers at Umea University in Sweden under the leadership of Thomas Edlund, Umea Center for Molecular Medicine, is now publishing their discovery of the signal molecules that regulate the formation of spinal marrow during the fetal period.

Our ability to move is largely dependent on various classes of motor neurons in our spinal marrow that govern the control of our muscles from there. However, it has long been unknown just how this part of the central nervous system is formed during fetal development.

Edlund's research team has now identified the phase in which spinal marrow and motor neurons start to develop as well as the signal molecules that regulate this process. Taken together, the team's research has now elucidated how the various parts of the central nervous system are initially developed during the fetal period. The identification of the signal molecules and how they work has also made it possible to reprogram cells from the forebrain to form all other parts of the central nervous system, including motor neurons in spinal marrow.

The article, titled "An Early Role for Wnt Signaling in Specifying Neural Patterns of Cdx and Hox Gene Expression and Motor Neuron Subtype Identity," is published in the latest issue of the journal PloS Biology. Co-authors are doctoral candidates Ulrika Nordstrom and Esther Maier, both at UCMM.

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