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Development 1993 May 01;1181:193-202.
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A Xenopus homebox gene defines dorsal-ventral domains in the developing brain.

Saha MS , Michel RB , Gulding KM , Grainger RM .

One of the distinguishing features of vertebrate development is the elaboration of the anterior neural plate into forebrain and midbrain, yet little is known about the early tissue interactions that regulate pattern formation in this region or the genes that mediate these interactions. As an initial step toward analyzing the process of regionalization in the anterior-most region of the brain, we have screened an anterior neural cDNA library for homeobox clones and have identified one which we have called XeNK-2 (Xenopus NK-2) because of its homology to the NK-2 family of homeobox genes. From neurula stages, when XeNK-2 is first detectable, through hatching stages, XeNK-2 mRNA is expressed primarily in the anterior region of the brain. By swimming tadpole stages, XeNK-2 expression resolves into a set of bands positioned at the forebrain-midbrain and the midbrain-hindbrain boundaries, after which XeNK-2 transcripts are no longer detectable. In addition to localized expression along the anterior-posterior axis, XeNK-2 may also play a role in the process of regionalization along the dorsal-ventral axis of the developing brain. At all stages examined, XeNK-2 mRNA is restricted to a pair of stripes that are bilaterally symmetrical in the ventral-lateral region of the brain. To begin to identify the tissue interactions that are required for the proper spatial and temporal localization of XeNK-2, we have performed a series of explant experiments. Consistent with earlier work showing that the A/P axis is not fixed at mid-gastrula stages, we show that XeNK-2 expression is activated when assayed in gastrula stage explants taken from any region along the entire A/P axis and that the tissue interactions necessary to localize XeNK-2 along the A/P axis are not completed until later neurula stages.

PubMed ID: 8104140

Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: acta4 nkx2-2 tac1 tbx2

Article Images: [+] show captions