Dorsoventral patterning of the neural tube has a crucial role in shaping the functional organization of the CNS. It is well established that hedgehog signalling plays a key role in specifying ventral cell types throughout the neuroectoderm, and major progress has been made in elucidating how hedgehog signalling works in this ventral specification. In addition, other molecular pathways, including nodal, retinoic acid and fibroblast growth factor signalling, have been identified as important molecular cues for ventral patterning of the spinal cord, telencephalon and eye. Here, we discuss recent advances in this field, highlighting the emerging interplay of these signalling pathways in the molecular specification of ventral patterning at different rostrocaudal levels of the CNS.
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