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Gene Expr Patterns. 2008 Sep;8(7-8):481-5. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Expression patterns of Shh, Ptc2, Raldh3, Pitx2, Isl1, Lim3 and Pax6 in the developing chick hypophyseal placode and Rathke's pouch.

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  • 1Umeå Center for Molecular Medicine, Building 6M, 4th Floor, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


The adenohypophysis is derived from a structure called the Rathke's pouch, which is an invagination of the hypophyseal placode. Hedgehog (Hh) and retinoic acid (RA) signals as well as several transcription factors have been suggested to play a role in the development of the adenohypophysis. We have therefore examined the expression pattern of Sonic hedgehog (Shh), the hedgehog receptor Patched2 (Ptc2), the retinoic acid producing enzyme Retinaldehyde dehydrogenase3 (Raldh3) and four transcription factors, Pitx2, Isl1, Lim3 and Pax6 in chick embryos from head fold stage to embryonic day (E) 4.5. We show that already at the head fold stage, Ptc2 is expressed in prospective hypophyseal placodal cells and that Shh is expressed in the underlying mesoderm. Moreover, Shh continues to be expressed in tissues surrounding the prospective adenohypophysis, and Ptc2 is expressed in prospective hypophyseal cells. Lim3 and Pax6 are expressed from stage 10 in the prospective hypophyseal placode, whereas Pitx2 starts to be expressed before stage 10. Pitx2 is together with Pax6 expressed in the entire domain of the Rathke's pouch. Raldh3 is detected at the 20 somite stage and is together with Lim3 expressed in the anterior part of the Rathke's pouch. Isl1 is expressed in the most posterior part of the hypophyseal ectoderm in a complementary pattern to Raldh3 and Lim3.

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