The cerebellar structures of teleosts are markedly different from those of other vertebrates. The cerebellum continues rostrally into the midbrain ventricle, forming the valvula cerebelli, only in ray-finned fishes among vertebrates. To analyze the ontogenetic processes that underlie this morphological difference, we examined the early development of the cerebellar regions, including the isthmus (mid/hindbrain boundary, MHB), of the medaka (Oryzias latipes), by histology and in-situ hybridization using two gene (wnt1 and fgf8) probes. Isthmic wnt1 was expressed stably in the caudalmost mesencephalic region in the neural tube at all developmental stages examined, defining molecularly the caudal limit of the mesencephalon. The wnt1-positive mesencephalic cells became located rostrally to the isthmic constriction at Iwamatsu's stages 25–26. Isthmic fgf8 expression changed dynamically and became restricted to the rostralmost metencephalic region at stage 24. The rostralmost part (prospective valvula cerebelli) of the fgf8-positive rostral metencephalon protruded rostrally into the midbrain ventricle, bypassing the isthmic constriction, at stages 25–26. Thus, the isthmic constriction shifted caudally with respect to the molecularly defined MHB at stages 25–26. Paired cerebellar primordia were formed from the alar plates of the fgf8-positive rostral metencephalon and the fgf8-negative caudal metencephalon in the medaka neural tube. Our results show that cerebellar development differs between teleosts and murines: both the rostral and caudal metencephalic alar plates develop into the cerebellum in medaka, whereas in the murines only the caudal metencephalic alar plate develops into the cerebellum, and the rostral plate is reduced to a thin membrane.
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