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Dev Dyn. 1997 Jun;209(2):242-53.

Backfoot is a novel homeobox gene expressed in the mesenchyme of developing hind limb.

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Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA.


Homeobox genes play important roles in pattern formation during development. Here, we report the cloning and temporal and spatial expression patterns of a novel homeobox gene Backfoot (BFT for the human gene, and Bft for the mouse gene), whose expression reveals an early molecular distinction between forelimb and hind limb. BFT was identified as a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein. In addition to the homeodomain, it shares a carboxyl-terminal peptide motif with other paired-like homeodomain proteins. Northern hybridization analysis of RNAs from human tissues revealed that human BFT is highly expressed in adult skeletal muscle and bladder. During midgestation embryogenesis, mouse Bft is expressed in the developing hind limb buds, mandibular arches, and Rathke's pouch. The expression of Bft begins prior to the appearance of hind limb buds in mesenchyme but is never observed in forelimbs. At later stages of limb development, the expression is progressively restricted to perichondrial regions, most likely in tendons and ligaments. The timing and pattern of expression suggest that Bft plays multiple roles in hind limb patterning, branchial arch development, and pituitary development. Bft is likely identical to a mouse gene, Ptx1, that was recently isolated by Lamonerie et al. ([1996] Genes Dev. 10:1284-1295) and that has been suggested to play a role in pituitary development.

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