CHox-cad is a chicken homeobox gene whose homeodomain is homologous to the Drosophila caudal and the murine Cdx1 genes. Based on sequence analysis of a 2.5 kb CHox-cad cDNA clone, we deduced that the primary translation product consists of 248 amino acids. Comparison between the cDNA and genomic clones revealed the presence of an intron within the CHox-cad homeodomain between amino acids 44 and 45. The onset of CHox-cad transcription correlates temporarily with the beginning of gastrulation. During primitive streak stages CHox-cad exhibits a caudally localized pattern of expression restricted to the epiblast and the primitive streak. At these stages, CHox-cad transcripts can also be detected in the definitive endoderm cells. Later in embryogenesis CHox-cad is expressed in the epithelial lining of the embryonic gut and yolk sac. After four days of chicken development, no CHox-cad transcripts could be detected. The early CHox-cad posterior expression in the germ layer undergoing gastrulation and its continuous expression in the early endodermal lineage raise the possibility of CHox-cad involvement in the establishment of the definitive endoderm.

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