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Dev Dyn. 2000 Sep;219(1):84-9.

Hex expression suggests a role in the development and function of organs derived from foregut endoderm.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8064, USA.


Hex is a divergent homeobox gene expressed as early as E4.5 in the mouse and in a pattern that suggests a role in anterior-posterior patterning. Later in embryogenesis, Hex is expressed in the developing thyroid, lung, and liver. We now show Hex expression during thymus, gallbladder, and pancreas development and in the adult thyroid, lung, and liver. At E10.0, Hex is expressed in the 3rd pharyngeal pouch, from which the thymus originates, the endodermal cells of liver that are invading the septum transversum, the thyroid, the dorsal pancreatic bud, and gallbladder primoridum. At E13.5, expression is maintained at high levels in the thyroid, liver, epithelial cells lining the pancreatic and extrahepatic biliary ducts and is present in both the epithelial and mesenchymal cells of the lung. Expression in the thymus at this age is less than in the other organs. In the E16.5 embryo, expression persists in the thyroid, pancreatic, and bile duct epithelium, lung, and liver, with thymic expression dropping to barely detectable levels. By E18.5, expression in the thyroid and bile ducts remains high, whereas lung expression is markedly decreased. At this age, expression in the pancreas and thymus is no longer present. Finally, we show the cell types in the adult thyroid, lung, and liver that express Hex in the mature animal. Our results provide more detail on the potential role of Hex in the development of several organs derived from foregut endoderm and in the maintenance of function of several of these organs in the mature animal.

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