Getting a-head of the organizer: Anterior-posterior patterning of the forebrain
The molecular mechanisms that drive the development of embryonic tissues are being uncovered rapidly. One such fascinating example is the development of the forebrain, the most anterior part of the nervous system. In this review, we will discuss the mechanisms that induce the formation of the forebrain in multiple vertebrate systems, placing emphasis on a recent article published by Grinblat et al. ((1)) Using zebrafish as a model system, these authors combine elegant embryological manipulations with the use of early markers of the presumptive forebrain, to show that initial induction and patterning of this tissue occurs near the onset of gastrulation. In addition, their results confirm observations made in other systems that planar signals, those traveling in the plane of the ectoderm, are involved in forebrain induction and patterning.