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Dev Biol. 1995 May;169(1):76-89.

Coordinated expression of Abd-B subfamily genes of the HoxA cluster in the developing digestive tract of chick embryo.

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Department of Molecular Biology, School of Science, Nagoya University, Japan.


To elucidate the molecular mechanism for determining the positional specificity and morphogenesis of the chicken digestive tract, we analyzed expression patterns of Hox genes during development of the digestive tract, focusing on the Abd-B subfamily genes of the HoxA cluster, Hoxa-9,-10,-11, and -13. Region-specific expression of these genes was found in the visceral mesoderm. In early development, before commencement of hindgut closure, they were expressed in a Russian doll pattern with the more 5' located gene on the cluster showing the more posterior restricted expression domain. At middle stage, when hindgut closure had occurred and morphological subdivision of the hindgut was gradually becoming distinct, the expression domains of each gene became mutually exclusive and restricted to the subdivisions; i.e., Hoxa-9 in the posterior part of the small intestine and the ceca, Hoxa-10 in the ceca, Hoxa-11 in the ceca, the large intestine, and the cloaca, and Hoxa-13 in the cloaca. At later stages, when the bilateral branches of the ceca had formed, the overlapping expression domains of Hoxa-10 and -11 were strongly correlated with the budding processes of the ceca. These observations suggest the possibility that Hox genes are responsible for determination of the position-specific differentiation of the visceral mesoderm of the digestive system and regulate the budding processes of the ceca.

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