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Development. 1996 Jan;122(1):271-80.

Developmental regulation of zebrafish MyoD in wild-type, no tail and spadetail embryos.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


We describe the isolation of the zebrafish MyoD gene and its expression in wild-type embryos and in two mutants with altered somite development, no tail (ntl) and spadetail (spt). In the wild-type embryo, MyoD expression first occurs in an early phase, extending from mid-gastrula to just prior to somite formation, in which cells directly adjacent to the axial mesoderm express the gene. In subsequent phases, during the anterior-to-posterior wave of somite formation and maturation, expression occurs within particular regions of each somite. In spt embryos, which lack normal paraxial mesoderm due to incorrect cell migration, early MyoD expression is not observed and transcripts are instead first detected in small groups of trunk cells that will develop into aberrant myotomal-like structures. In ntl embryos, which lack notochords and tails, the early phase of MyoD expression is also absent. However, the later phase of expression within the developing somites appears to occur at the normal time in the ntl mutants, indicating that the presomitogenesis and somitogenesis phases of MyoD expression can be uncoupled. In addition, we demonstrate that the entire paraxial mesoderm of wild-type embryos has the potential to express MyoD when Sonic hedgehog is expressed ubiquitously in the embryo, and that this potential is lost in some of the cells of the paraxial mesoderm lineage in no tail and spadetail embryos. We also show that MyoD expression precedes myogenin expression and follows or is coincident with expression of snaill in some regions that express this gene.

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