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Dev Biol. 1994 Mar;162(1):288-303.

A novel NK-related mouse homeobox gene: expression in central and peripheral nervous structures during embryonic development.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Technical University of Braunschweig, Federal Republic of Germany.


We have identified three novel mouse homeobox genes that are related to the Drosophila NK gene family. Two genes without direct homologues in Drosophila were designated Nkx-5.1 and Nkx-5.2; the third gene Nkx-1.1 constitutes the mouse homologue to NK1.Nkx-5.1 and Nkx-5.2 are closely linked on mouse chromosome 7, whereas Nkx-1.1 is located on a different chromosome. Here, we report the spatiotemporal expression pattern of Nkx-5.1 during prenatal mouse development. Nkx-5.1 gene activity begins at Embryonic Day 10.5 in the developing ear, the neural tube, and dorsal root ganglia. It continues to be active throughout prenatal life in discrete regions of the brain with an anterior border in the ventral diencephalon at the optic chiasma and expression domains in mesencephalon, metencephalon, and myelencephalon. At midgestation, Nkx-5.1 is also expressed in mesenchyme of the head and branchial arches, and in some cranial ganglia, as well as in derivatives of neural crest, such as the truncus sympathicus and myenteric ganglia. The time pattern of Nkx-5.1 expression and its confinement to primarily postmitotic cells of the central and peripheral nervous system suggest that Nkx-5.1 may play a role in the specification of neuronal cell types.

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