Hox 7.1 is a murine homeobox-containing gene expressed in a range of neural-crest-derived tissues and areas of putative epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during embryogenesis. We have examined the expression of Hox 7.1 during craniofacial development in the mouse embryo between days 8 and 16 of development. Whereas facial expression at day 10 of gestation is broadly localised in the neural-crest-derived mesenchyme of the medial nasal, lateral nasal, maxillary and mandibular processes, by day 12 expression is restricted to the mesenchyme immediately surrounding the developing tooth germs in the maxillary and mandibular processes. Hox 7.1 expression in the mesenchyme of the dental papilla and follicle is maximal at the cap stage of development and progressively declines in the bell stage prior to differentiation of odontoblasts and ameloblasts. Hox 7.1 expression in tooth germs is independent of overall embryonic stage of development but is dependent on stage of development of the individual tooth. Similar patterns of transient Hox 7.1 expression can also be detected in tooth germs in vitro in organ cultures of day 11 first branchial arch explants cultured for up to 7 days. Hox 7.1 is also expressed early in development (days 10/11) in the epithelium of the developing anterior pituitary (Rathke's pouch), the connective tissue capsule and meninges of the developing brain, and specific regions of neuroepithelium in the developing brain.

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