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Mech Dev. 2001 Mar;101(1-2):155-66.

Distinct roles of maf genes during Xenopus lens development.

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  • 1Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Takayama 8916-5, Ikoma, 630-0101, Nara, Japan.


Lens development provides a good model system for studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying embryonic induction and morphogenesis. Members of the large Maf family of transcription factors, L-Maf and c-Maf, have been shown to play key roles in chick and mouse lens development. Here we report identification of two Xenopus maf genes, XmafB and XL-maf, which exhibit unique temporal and spatial expression patterns during lens formation. XmafB can first be detected in the presumptive lens-forming ectoderm, when the primary eye vesicle makes contact with the head ectoderm. XL-maf expression appears a little later, just before thickening of the lens placode, and both XmafB and XL-maf can be detected in the lens placode. During lens vesicle formation, the expression domains of XmafB and XL-maf segregated from each other, resulting in restricted expression in lens epithelial and fiber cells, respectively. When the optic cup anlagen was removed, only XmafB expression is detected. Both Mafs can induce the lens fiber cell-specific markers, betaA4- and gamma-crystallins. In animal cap assays, XmafB can induce Pax6, Xlens1 and Sox3 expression, but XL-maf fails to induce Pax6 and Xlens1 expression. These results suggest that these maf genes are involved in the regulation of cell-type specific gene expression and play roles in inductive events during Xenopus lens development.

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