After an earlier, transient phase of expression in the developing primitive streak of 6.4- to 6.8-day mouse embryos, the homeobox gene goosecoid is now shown to be expressed in a later phase of mouse development, from 10.5 days onwards. The later, spatially restricted domains of goosecoid expression are detected in the head, limbs and ventrolateral body wall. At all sites, the domains of expression are first detected in undifferentiated tissue, and then expression persists as these tissues undergo subsequent morphogenesis. For example, goosecoid expression is noted in the first branchial arch at 10.5 days, and then expression persists as this tissue undergoes morphogenesis to form the lower jaw and the body of the tongue. Expression in tissues around the first branchial cleft persists as these undergo morphogenesis to form the base of the auditory meatus and eustachian tube. Expression in tissues around the newly formed nasal pits persists as these elongate to form the nasal chambers. Expression in the ventral epithelial lining of the otic vesicle persists as this eventually gives rise to the non-sensory epithelium of the cochlea. Expression in the proximal limb buds and ventrolateral body wall persists as these tissues undergo morphogenesis to form proximal limb structures and ventral ribs respectively. Our findings lead us to suggest that the goosecoid gene product plays a role in spatial programming within discrete embryonic fields, and possibly lineage compartments, during organogenesis stages of mouse development.

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