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Dev Genes Evol. 2004 Aug;214(8):393-406. Epub 2004 Jul 29.

her11 is involved in the somitogenesis clock in zebrafish.

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  • 1Institut für Genetik, Universität zu Köln, Weyertal 121, 50931 Cologne, Germany.


Somitogenesis requires an intricate process of pre-patterning, which is driven by an oscillator mechanism consisting of the Delta-Notch pathway and hairy- (h) and Enhancer of split- [E(spl)] related genes. With the aim of unravelling the complex mechanism of somite pre-patterning, we have conducted an extensive search for h/E(spl)-related genes in the third release of the Danio rerio genomic sequence. We identified 14 new h/E(spl) genes and analysed them by in situ hybridisation for their potential role in the somitogenesis process. We describe here the functional analysis of one of these genes, which we have named her11. her11 is a paralogue of her1 and, similar to her1, is arranged in a head to head fashion with another her gene, namely the previously described her5. It shares an expression in the midbrain-hindbrain boundary with her5, but is in addition cyclically expressed in patterns overlapping those of her1 and her7 and complementary to those of hey1. Furthermore it is expressed in the anterior half of the most caudally formed somites. We show that Delta-Notch pathway genes and fused somites ( fss) are necessary for the control of her11 expression. However, some aspects of the her11 regulation suggest that at least one additional as yet unknown gene of the Delta-Notch cascade is required to explain its expression. Morpholino-oligonucleotide-mediated knockdown of her11 shows that it is involved in the zebrafish somitogenesis clock via an interaction with her1 and her7. We have also studied the role of hey1 by morpholino injection, but could not find a direct function for this gene, suggesting that it reflects the output of the clock rather than being a core component of the mechanism.

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