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Dev Biol. 2010 Apr 15;340(2):381-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.01.022. Epub 2010 Jan 29.

The Pax3 and Pax7 paralogs cooperate in neural and neural crest patterning using distinct molecular mechanisms, in Xenopus laevis embryos.

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Institut Curie, Centre de Recherche, Centre Universitaire, F-91405 Orsay, France.


Pax3 and Pax7 paralogous genes have functionally diverged in vertebrate evolution, creating opportunity for a new distribution of roles between the two genes and the evolution of novel functions. Here we focus on the regulation and function of Pax7 in the brain and neural crest of amphibian embryos, which display a different pax7 expression pattern, compared to the other vertebrates already described. Pax7 expression is restricted to the midbrain, hindbrain and anterior spinal cord, and Pax7 activity is important for maintaining the fates of these regions, by restricting otx2 expression anteriorly. In contrast, pax3 displays broader expression along the entire neuraxis and Pax3 function is important for posterior brain patterning without acting on otx2 expression. Moreover, while both genes are essential for neural crest patterning, we show that they do so using two distinct mechanisms: Pax3 acts within the ectoderm which will be induced into neural crest, while Pax7 is essential for the inducing activity of the paraxial mesoderm towards the prospective neural crest.

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