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Mech Dev. 2001 May;103(1-2):141-3.

Gcm2 and Foxn1 mark early parathyroid- and thymus-specific domains in the developing third pharyngeal pouch.

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Centre for Genome Research / Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JQ, UK.


The thymus and parathyroids originate from a common primordium that develops from the third pharyngeal pouch in mice and humans. The molecular mechanism that specifies this primordium into distinct organ domains is not known. The Gcm2 and Foxn1 transcription factors are required for development of the parathyroid and thymus respectively, and are attractive candidates for this role. However, their embryonic expression patterns during pharyngeal pouch development and early thymus and parathyroid organogenesis have not been described. Here we report that Gcm2 is expressed specifically in the developing second and third pharyngeal pouches at E9.5, and is further confined to a small domain of the third pouch endoderm by E10.5. In contrast, Foxn1 is not expressed until after the common primordium is formed, beginning at E11.25. Our results show that Gcm2 and Foxn1 expression mark two complementary domains that prefigure parathyroid and thymus regions within the common primordium before morphological distinctions are present.

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