Dynamic domains of gene expression in the early avian forebrain

E Bell, M Ensini, M Gulisano, A Lumsden

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40 Citations (Scopus)


The expression domains of genes implicated in forebrain patterning often share borders at specific anteroposterior positions. This observation lies at the heart of the prosomeric model, which proposes that such shared borders coincide with proposed compartment boundaries and that specific combinations of genes expressed within each compartment are responsible for its patterning. Thus, genes such as Emx1, Emx2, Pax6, and qin (Bf1) are seen as being responsible for specifying different regions in the forebrain (diencephalon and telencephalon). However, the early expression of these genes, before the appearance of putative compartment boundaries, has not been characterized. In order to determine whether they have stable expression domains before this stage, we have compared mRNA expression of each of the above genes, relative both to one another and to morphological landmarks, in closely staged chick embryos. We find that, between HH stage 8 and HH stage 13, each of the genes has a dynamic spatial and temporal expression pattern. To test for autonomy of gene expression in the prosencephalon, we grafted tissue from this region to more caudal positions in the neural tube and analyzed for expression of Emx1, Emx2, qin, or Pax6. We find that gene expression is autonomous in prosencephalic tissue from as early as HH stage 8. In the case of Emx1, our data suggest that, from as early stage 8, presumptive telencephalic tissue also is committed to express this gene. We propose that early patterning along the anteroposterior axis of the presumptive telencephalon occurs across a field that is subdivided by different combinations of genes, with some overlapping areas, but without either sharp boundaries or stable interfaces between expression domains. (C) 2001 Academic Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76 - 88
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2001


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