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Cloning and developmental expression of the Xenopus homeobox gene Xvsx1

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In contrast to the high degree of evolutionary conservation of the Vsx2/Chx10 gene family, vertebrate orthologues of Vsx1 display more divergent sequences and spatio-temporal expression patterns. Here, we report the cloning and expression pattern of Xenopus laevis Vsx1. Differently from the mouse and zebrafish orthologues, Xvsx1 transcription is activated at early neurula both in the evaginating eye vesicles and in the presumptive spinal cord. Compared to other retinal homeobox genes, such as Xrx1, Xsix3 and Xpax6, Xvsx1 is activated at a later stage; in addition, its anterior expression appears to be more specifically restricted to the retina. At tail bud stage, Xvsx1 expression in retinal progenitors persists, and its neural tube expression, which in the spinal cord corresponds to interneurons, progressively expands anteriorly reaching the midbrain–hindbrain boundary. During retinal neurogenesis, Xvsx1 expression is maintained in retinal progenitors and in a peripheral region of the ciliary marginal zone, while in the central retina, it becomes restricted to differentiated bipolar cells.

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We thank M. Fabbri and G. De Matienzo for the technical assistance and S. Di Maria for the frog care. We also thank Robert Vignali for the critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research (MIUR), Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), FIRB Neuroscience (RBNE01), Telethon (grant no. GGP04268) and Scuola Normale Superiore.

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Correspondence to Massimiliano Andreazzoli.

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S. D’Autilia and S. Decembrini contributed equally to this work.

Communicated by M. Hammerschmidt

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D’Autilia, S., Decembrini, S., Casarosa, S. et al. Cloning and developmental expression of the Xenopus homeobox gene Xvsx1 . Dev Genes Evol 216, 829–834 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00427-006-0109-0

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  • Vsx1
  • Paired type homeobox
  • Retinogenesis
  • Ciliary marginal zone
  • Bipolar cells
  • Interneurons