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Dev Biol. 2001 Mar 1;231(1):138-48.

A zebrafish forebrain-specific zinc finger gene can induce ectopic dlx2 and dlx6 expression.

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Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia 30912, USA.


Identification of the earliest forebrain-specific markers should facilitate the elucidation of molecular events underlying vertebrate forebrain determination and specification. Here we report the sequence and characterization of fez (forebrain embryonic zinc finger), a gene that is specifically expressed in the embryonic forebrain of zebrafish. Fez encodes a putative nuclear zinc finger protein that is highly conserved in Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, mouse, and human. In zebrafish, the expression of fez becomes detectable at the anterior edge of the presumptive neuroectoderm by 70% epiboly. During the segmentation period, its expression is completely restricted to the rostral region of the prospective forebrain. At approximately 24 h postfertilization, fez expression is mostly confined to the telencephalon and the anterior-ventral region of the diencephalon. Although fez expression is present in one-eyed pinhead (oep) and cyclops (cyc) zebrafish mutants, the pattern is altered. Forced expression of fez induces ectopic expression of dlx2 and dlx6, two genes involved in brain development. Knockdown of fez function using a morpholino-based antisense oligo inhibited dlx2 expression in the ventral forebrain. Our studies indicate that fez is one of the earliest markers specific for the anterior neuroectoderm and it may play a role in forebrain development by regulating Dlx gene expression.

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