The chicken CdxA homeobox gene and axial positioning during gastrulation

Ayala Frumkin, Rebecca Haffner, Eli Shapira, Nora Tarcic, Yosef Gruenbaum, Abraham Fainsod*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The chicken homeobox containing gene, CdxA (formerly CHox-cad), was previously shown to be expressed during gastrulation. Localization of CdxA transcripts by in situ hybridization to tissue sections revealed that, during gastrulation, expression of this gene exhibits a posterior localization along the primitive streak. The transcripts are localized to epiblast cells in the vicinity of the primitive streak, to cells of the primitive streak itself and in the definitive endoderm as it replaces the hypoblast. In order to study in greater detail the pattern of expression of the CdxA gene during gastrulation, we expressed the full-length CdxA protein as a fusion protein in E. coll and generated monoclonal antibodies against it. Chicken embryos at different stages of gastrulation were processed for whole-mount immunohistochemical localization of the protein using anti-CdxA antibodies. Once the pattern of expression in the whole embryo was determined, the same embryos were sectioned to determine the identity of the cells expressing the CdxA protein. Detailed analysis of the CdxA protein in embryos, from the onset of primitive streak formation to the beginning of the tail bud stage (stages 2 to 10), has shown different patterns of expression during primitive streak elongation and regression. The CdxA protein is initially detected at the posterior marginal zone and the expression moves rostrally into the primitive streak during mid-streak stages. As the primitive streak elongates, the CdxA stripe of expression moves anteriorly. By definitive streak stages, the CdxA stripe of expression delineates a position along the anterior-posterior axis in the primitive streak. CdxA, like its Drosophila homologue cad, is expressed during gastrulation in a stripe localized to the posterior region of the embryo. These observations suggest that CdxA as a homeobox gene may be part of a regulatory network coupled to axial determination during gastrulation in the early chick embryo.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • Axial specification
  • Chicken embryos
  • Endoderm
  • Gastrulation
  • Homeobox genes


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