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Dev Dyn. 1993 Jul;197(3):203-16.

Expression of homeobox genes Msx-1 (Hox-7) and Msx-2 (Hox-8) during cardiac development in the chick.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, United Kingdom.


The vertebrate homeobox genes Msx-1 and Msx-2 are related to the Drosophila msh gene and are expressed in a variety of tissues during embryogenesis. We have examined their expression by in situ hybridisation during critical stages of cardiac development in the chick from stages 15+ to 37. Msx-1 expression is apparent in a number of non-myocardial cell populations, including cells undergoing an epithelial to mesenchymal transformation in the atrioventricular and the outflow tract regions that play an integral role in heart septation and valve formation. Msx-2 expression is restricted to a distinct subpopulation of myocardial cells that, in later stages, coincides morphologically with the cardiac conduction system. The timing of Msx-2 expression suggests that it plays a role in conduction system tissue formation and that it identifies precursor cells of this specialised myocardium. The pattern of Msx-2 expression is discussed with reference to current models of conduction tissue development.

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