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Neuron. 1997 Nov;19(5):981-94.

Xath5 participates in a network of bHLH genes in the developing Xenopus retina.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84132, USA.

Erratum in

  • Neuron 1998 Nov;21(5):following 1221.


We examined the function of basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors during retinal neurogenesis. We identified Xath5, a Xenopus bHLH gene related to Drosophila atonal, which is expressed in the developing Xenopus retina. Targeted expression of Xath5 in retinal progenitor cells biased the differentiation of these cells toward a ganglion cell fate, suggesting that Xath5 can regulate the differentiation of retinal neurons. We examined the relationship between the three bHLH genes Xash3, NeuroD, and Xath5 during retinal neurogenesis and found that Xash3 is expressed in early retinoblasts, followed by coexpression of Xath5 and NeuroD in differentiating cells. We provide evidence that the expression of Xash3, NeuroD, and Xath5 is coupled and propose that these bHLH genes regulate successive stages of neuronal differentiation in the developing retina.

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