We have isolated the novel murine Sax-1 gene, a member of the NK-1 class of homeobox genes, and report its expression pattern in the developing central nervous system (CNS) in comparison to two other homeobox genes, Evx-1 and Pax-6. Sax-1 was found to be transiently expressed in the developing posterior CNS. First seen in the ectoderm lateral to the primitive streak, the signal later encompassed the neural plate. Posteriorly, the expression domain overlapped with the Evx-1 expression in the streak, while anteriorly it was delimited by the Pax-6 signal in the neural tube. This early phase of Sax-1 expression suggests a role during the early determinative events in the formation of hindbrain and spinal cord. In a second phase starting at day 9.5 pc, Sax-1 was expressed in distinct areas of spinal cord, hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain. Particularly strong signals were detected in rhombomere 1 and in the pretectum. In these areas, subsets of neurons may be marked and specified. In addition to the normal pattern of Sax-1 during development, the expression in different mouse mutants was analysed. In Brachyury curtailed homozygotes, the expression of Sax-1 was found to be reduced during neurulation and even lost at day 9.0 pc. Ventral shift and finally loss of the signal in the ventral spinal cord was observed in Danforth's short tail homozygotes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to S. Dietrich for Sd and TC, and C. Walther for Sey mice. We thank A. Stoykova for commenting on the late expression domains, E. GomezPardo, F. Pituello, and P. Tremblay for discussing the manuscript, and particularly S. Dietrich for all the inspiration throughout the project. F.R.S. was supported by the Max-Planck-Society.
- Brachyury curtailed
- Danforth's short tail
- Neural induction
- P19 EC cells
- Spinal cord