The molecular mechanisms that activate morphogenesis of cerebral cortex are currently the subject of intensive experimental analysis. Transcription factor genes of the homeobox, basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) and zinc-finger families have recently been shown to have essential roles in this process. However, the actual selector genes activating corticogenesis have not yet been identified. Here we show that high-level expression of at least one functional allele of either of the homeobox genes Emx2 or Pax6 in the dorsal telencephalon is necessary and sufficient to stably activate morphogenesis of cerebral cortex and to repress that of adjacent structures, such as striatum.
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