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Nature. 1989 Feb 2;337(6206):461-4.

Segment-specific expression of a zinc-finger gene in the developing nervous system of the mouse.

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Laboratory of Developmental Biochemistry, National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, UK.


The process of segmentation, in which repeated homologous structures are generated along the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo is a widespread mechanism in animal development. In vertebrates, segmentation is most apparent in the somites and the peripheral nervous system, but the existence of repetitive bulges, termed neuromeres, in the early neural epithelium of vertebrates suggests that the CNS may also be segmented. Consistent with this, cranial ganglia and certain neurons are associated with specific hindbrain neuromeres. Here, we report that Krox-20, a zinc-finger gene, is expressed in two alternate neuromeres in the mouse early hindbrain. This pattern subsequently decays and Krox-20 is transiently expressed in specific hindbrain nuclei. In addition, Krox-20 is expressed in early neural crest cells, and then in the neural crest-derived boundary caps, glial components of the cranial and spinal ganglia. The demonstration that neuromeres are domains of gene expression provides molecular evidence for the segmentation of the CNS.

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