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Development. 1993 Sep;119(1):41-8.

Experimental analysis of the control of expression of the homeobox-gene Msx-1 in the developing limb and face.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


Mouse mesenchyme was grafted into chick embryos to investigate the control of mesenchymal expression of Msx-1 in the developing limb and face. In situ hybridization, using species-specific probes, allows a comparison between Msx-1 expression in the graft and the host tissue. The results show that Msx-1 expression in both limb-to-limb and face-to-face grafts corresponds closely with the level of Msx-1 expression in the surrounding chick mesenchyme. Cells in grafts that end up within the host domain of Msx-1 express the gene irrespective of whether they were from normally expressing, or non-expressing, regions. Therefore Msx-1 expression in both the developing limb and the developing face appears to be position-dependent. Mesenchyme from each of the three major facial primordia behaved in the same way when grafted to the chick maxillary primordium. Reciprocal grafts between face and limb gave a different result: Msx-1 expression was activated when facial mesenchyme was grafted to the limb but not when limb mesenchyme was grafted to the face. This suggests either that there are quantitative or qualitative differences in two local signalling systems or that additional factors determine the responsiveness of the mesenchyme cells.

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