The hypothalamus integrates information required for the production of a variety of innate behaviors such as feeding, mating, aggression, and predator avoidance. Despite an extensive knowledge of hypothalamic function, how embryonic genetic programs specify circuits that regulate these behaviors remains unknown. Here, we find that in the hypothalamus the developmentally regulated homeodomain-containing transcription factor Dbx1 is required for the generation of specific subclasses of neurons within the lateral hypothalamic area/zona incerta (LH) and the arcuate (Arc) nucleus. Consistent with this specific developmental role, Dbx1 hypothalamic-specific conditional-knockout mice display attenuated responses to predator odor and feeding stressors but do not display deficits in other innate behaviors such as mating or conspecific aggression. Thus, activity of a single developmentally regulated gene, Dbx1, is a shared requirement for the specification of hypothalamic nuclei governing a subset of innate behaviors.
Jones, Kevin, "Specification of Select Hypothalamic Circuits and Innate Behaviors by the Embryonic Patterning Gene Dbx1" (2015). Department of Biology Faculty Publications. 182.