We have investigated developmental expression of the gene Egr-1, which encodes a protein containing three zinc fingers. Egr-1 like c-fos is a serum inducible, early response gene, which is co-induced with c-fos in a variety of quite different situations. A single 3.7-kb RNA was detected throughout fetal mouse development, which increased in absolute levels in total fetal RNA from 9.5 to 12.5 days post coitum (p.c.). In situ hybridization to 14.5- and 17.5-day p.c. fetal tissues demonstrated Egr-1 accumulation at several specific sites. These included mesenchymal components of the developing tooth germs and salivary and nasal glands; an ectodermally derived component of the whisker pad and developing muscle, cartilage, and bone. Expression of Egr-1 in cartilage and bone showed a strikingly similar expression to previously published reports of c-fos in these tissues. High levels of Egr-1 RNA was observed at the perichondrial interface of opposing cartilaginous elements and in interstitial cells that lie in between. Bone expression was observed in membranous bone of the head, alveolar bone around the tooth germs, and at periosteal and endochondral ossification sites in the limb bones. Our data support the idea that Egr-1 and c-fos may be coregulated in vivo and together may regulate normal development of the skeleton.

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