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Gene Expr Patterns. 2003 Jun;3(3):261-72.

From mesoderm to blood islands: patterns of key molecules during yolk sac erythropoiesis.

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Institut d'Embryologie Cellulaire et Mol├ęculaire du CNRS et du Coll├Ęge de France, 49 bis avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, 94736 Cedex, Nogent s/Marne, France.


Several identified genes play key roles in the specification of the blood-forming system, from commitment of mesoderm to differentiation of hemopoietic and endothelial cells. We have thoroughly analyzed the expression dynamics of some of these genes during yolk sac erythropoiesis in the chick embryo. The study includes transcription factors which are known to participate in multimeric complexes: GATA-1, -2, SCL/tal-1 and Lmo2 (whose avian orthologue we have cloned), VEGF-R2, a critical regulator of hemopoietic and endothelial commitment, and hemoglobin used as a marker of the last step in erythroid differentiation. Several findings were unexpected. (1) Two distinct patterns were revealed for GATA-2, first: low expression, ubiquitous in all mesodermal cells, as soon as cells ingress through the primitive streak; secondly: high, blood island-specific expression. (2) VEGF-R2 is coexpressed with GATA-2 at the level of the primitive streak. (3) SCL and Lmo2 expression is restricted to presumptive hemangioblasts. (4) The up-regulation of GATA-2 in newly formed blood islands is shortly followed by GATA-1 expression. (5) Lmo2 is up-regulated in blood island angioblasts thus appearing as one of the earliest markers for endothelial cell commitment. VEGF-R2 is down-regulated in hemopoietic cells prior to GATA-2, SCL/tal-1, Lmo2 and GATA-1 in erythroblasts.

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