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Dev Dyn. 2004 Feb;229(2):328-33.

Differences in the embryonic expression patterns of mouse Foxf1 and -2 match their distinct mutant phenotypes.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Murine genes encoding the forkhead transcription factors Foxf1 and -2 are both expressed in derivatives of the splanchnic mesoderm, i.e., the mesenchyme of organs derived from the primitive gut. In addition, Foxf2 is also expressed in limbs and the central nervous system. Targeted mutagenesis of Foxf1 and -2 suggests that Foxf1 is the more important of the two mammalian FoxF genes with early embryonic lethality of null embryos and a haploinsufficiency phenotype affecting foregut-derived organs. In contrast, the only reported defect in Foxf2 null embryos is cleft palate. To investigate if the differences in mutant phenotype can be attributed to nonoverlapping expression patterns or if distinct functions of the encoded proteins have to be inferred, we analyzed the early embryonic expression of Foxf2 and compared it with that of the better investigated Foxf1. We find that in the early embryo, Foxf1 is completely dominating-in terms of expression-in extraembryonic and lateral plate mesoderm, consistent with the malformations and early lethality of Foxf1 null mutants. Along the developing gut, Foxf1 is highly expressed throughout, whereas Foxf2 expression is concentrated to the posterior part-fitting the foregut haploinsufficiency phenotypes of Foxf1 mutants. Foxf2, on the other hand, is more prominent than Foxf1 in mesenchyme around the oral cavity, as would be predicted from the cleft palate phenotype. The differences in expression pattern also highlight areas where defects should be sought for in the Foxf2 mutant, for example limbs, the posterior gut, genitalia, and derivatives of the neural crest mesenchyme.

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