During development of the vertebrate hindbrain regulatory gene expression is confined to precise segmental domains. Studies of cell lineage and gene expression suggest that establishment of these domains may involve a dynamic regulation of cell identity and restriction of cell movement between segments. We have taken a dominant negative approach to interfere with the function of Sek-1, a member of the Eph-related receptor tyrosine kinase family expressed in rhombomeres r3 and r5. In Xenopus and zebrafish embryos expressing truncated Sek-1, lacking kinase sequences, expression of r3/r5 markers occurs in adjacent even-numbered rhombomeres, in domains contiguous with r3 or r5. This disruption is rescued by full-length Sek-1, indicating a requirement for the kinase domain in the segmental restriction of gene expression. These data suggest that Sek-1, perhaps with other Eph-related receptors, is required for interactions that regulate the segmental identity or movement of cells.

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