The evolution of nervous system patterning: insights from sea urchin development.
Recent studies of the sea urchin embryo have elucidated the mechanisms that localize and pattern its nervous system. These studies have revealed the presence of two overlapping regions of neurogenic potential at the beginning of embryogenesis, each of which becomes progressively restricted by separate, yet linked, signals, including Wnt and subsequently Nodal and BMP. These signals act to specify and localize the embryonic neural fields - the anterior neuroectoderm and the more posterior ciliary band neuroectoderm - during development. Here, we review these conserved nervous system patterning signals and consider how the relationships between them might have changed during deuterostome evolution.