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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 29; 93(22): 12364–12369.

Combinations of closely situated cis-acting elements determine tissue-specific patterns and anterior extent of early Hoxc8 expression.


We have used a transgene mutation approach to study how expression domains of Hoxc8 are established during mouse embryogenesis. A cis-regulatory region located 3 kb upstream from the Hoxc8 translational start site directs the early phase of expression. Four elements, termed A, B, C, and D, were previously shown to direct expression to the neural tube. Here we report that a fifth element, E, located immediately downstream of D directs expression to mesoderm in combination with the other four elements. These elements are interdependent and partially redundant. Different combinations of elements determine expression in different posterior regions of the embryo. Neural tube expression is determined minimally by ABC, ABD, or ACD; somite expression by ACDE; and lateral plate mesoderm expression by DE. Neural tube and lateral plate mesoderm enhancers can be separated, but independent somite expression has not been achieved. Furthermore, mutations within these elements result in posteriorization of the reporter gene expression. Thus, the anterior extent of expression is determined by the combined action of these elements. We propose that the early phase of Hoxc8 expression is directed by two separate mechanisms: one that determines tissue specificity and another that determines anterior extent of expression.

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