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Development. 1992 Dec;116(4):1123-36.

Mox-1 and Mox-2 define a novel homeobox gene subfamily and are differentially expressed during early mesodermal patterning in mouse embryos.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical School, Nashville TN 37232-2175.


We have isolated two mouse genes, Mox-1 and Mox-2 that, by sequence, genomic structure and expression pattern, define a novel homeobox gene family probably involved in mesodermal regionalization and somitic differentiation. Mox-1 is genetically linked to the keratin and Hox-2 genes of chromosome 11, while Mox-2 maps to chromosome 12. At primitive streak stages (approximately 7.0 days post coitum), Mox-1 is expressed in mesoderm lying posterior of the future primordial head and heart. It is not expressed in neural tissue, ectoderm, or endoderm. Mox-1 expression may therefore define an extensive 'posterior' domain of embryonic mesoderm before, or at the earliest stages of, patterning of the mesoderm and neuroectoderm by the Hox cluster genes. Between 7.5 and 9.5 days post coitum, Mox-1 is expressed in presomitic mesoderm, epithelial and differentiating somites (dermatome, myotome and sclerotome) and in lateral plate mesoderm. In the body of midgestation embryos, Mox-1 signal is restricted to loose undifferentiated mesenchyme. Mox-1 signal is also prominent over the mesenchyme of the heart cushions and truncus arteriosus, which arises from epithelial-mesenchymal transformation and over a limited number of craniofacial foci of neural crest-derived mesenchyme that are associated with muscle attachment sites. The expression profile of Mox-2 is similar to, but different from, that of Mox-1. For example, Mox-2 is apparently not expressed before somites form, is then expressed over the entire epithelial somite, but during somitic differentiation, Mox-2 signal rapidly becomes restricted to sclerotomal derivatives. The expression patterns of these genes suggest regulatory roles for Mox-1 and Mox-2 in the initial anterior-posterior regionalization of vertebrate embryonic mesoderm and, in addition, in somite specification and differentiation.

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