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Dev Biol. 2001 Nov 15;239(2):241-56.

Systematic screening and expression analysis of the head organizer genes in Xenopus embryos.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


We describe here a systematic screen of an anterior endomesoderm (AEM) cDNA library to isolate novel genes which are expressed in the head organizer region. After removing clones which hybridized to labeled cDNA probes synthesized with total RNA from a trunk region of tailbud embryos, the 5' ends of 1039 randomly picked cDNA clones were sequenced to make expressed sequence tags (ESTs), which formed 754 tentative unique clusters. Those clusters were compared against public databases and classified according to similarities found to other genes and gene products. Of them, 151 clusters were identified as known Xenopus genes, including eight organizer-specific ones (5.3%). Gene expression pattern screening was performed for 198 unique clones, which were selected because they either have no known function or are predicted to be developmental regulators in other species. The screen revealed nine possible organizer-specific clones (4.5%), four of which appeared to be expressed in the head organizer region. Detailed expression analysis from gastrula to neurula stages showed that these four genes named crescent, P7E4 (homologous to human hypothetical genes), P8F7 (an unclassified gene), and P17F11 (homologous to human and Arabidopsis hypothetical genes) demarcate spatiotemporally distinct subregions of the AEM corresponding to the head organizer region. These results indicate that our screening strategy is effective in isolating novel region-specific genes.

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