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Mech Dev. 2004 Mar;121(3):301-12.

Characterization of dermacan, a novel zebrafish lectican gene, expressed in dermal bones.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry, Okayama 700-8558, Japan.


We report here the isolation and characterization of a cDNA encoding zebrafish dermacan, a novel member of hyaluronan (HA)-binding proteoglycans, which was termed after its characteristic expression in the zebrafish dermal bones. The deduced protein sequence shares the typical modular elements of lecticans. Sequence comparison covering the C-terminal globular domain demonstrated that dermacan shows high homology with zebrafish versican but is distinct from any other identified lecticans. Genomic DNA analysis demonstrated that dermacan and versican were encoded by distinct genes in the zebrafish genome. The expression of dermacan is initiated in the sclerotome and cephalic paraxial mesoderm at 16 h postfertilization. During the pharyngular period, dermacan transcripts were detected in the sclerotome, tail fin bud, pharyngular arch primordial region, and otic vesicle. In the development of craniofacial bones, dermacan expression was detected typically in the opercle and dentary. These regions belong to the craniofacial dermal bones. aggrecan expression, in contrast, was observed in the elements of craniofacial cartilage bones. In the dermacan-morpholino-injected embryos, dermal bones, e.g. opercle, dentary, and branchiostegal rays, as well as axial skeleton in the trunk, showed decreased ossification. We conclude that dermacan is a novel lectican gene, and that zebrafish lectican genes have genetically diverged. In addition, our data suggest the involvement of dermacan in zebrafish dermal bone development.

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