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In the vertebrate embryo, a rhombomere is a transiently divided segment of the developing neural tube (a neuromere) in the area that will eventually become the rhombencephalon. The rhombomeres appear as a series of slightly constricted swellings in the neural tube, caudal to the cephalic flexure. In human embryonic development, the rhombomeres are present by day 29. The mature rhombencephalon is composed of the pons, cerebellum and medulla.
Each rhombomere is distinct, and cells of different rhombomere do not intermingle. Neural crest cells from each rhombomere give rise to different ganglia, or clusters of neurons. The fate of a rhombomere is affected by differential expression of Hox genes.
The correct development of the various pharyngeal arches is believed to depend on interactions with specific rhombomeres.
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