A total of 5 conventional, directionally cloned plasmid cDNA libraries have been constructed from the entire embryonic region of the mid-gastrulation mouse embryo and from its four principal tissue constituents (ectoderm, mesoderm, endoderm and primitive streak). These libraries have been validated with respect to the number of independent clones, insert-size and appropriate representation of diagnostic marker genes. Subtractive hybridisation has been used to remove clones common to the Endoderm and Mesoderm cDNA libraries resulting in an Endoderm minus Mesoderm subtracted library. Probe prepared from this subtracted library has been hybridised to a grid containing approximately 18,500 Embryonic Region library clones. Three novel clones have been recovered as well as expected genes already known to be highly expressed in the primitive endoderm lineage at this stage of development. In situ hybridisation to early postimplantation embryos has revealed the expression patterns of these novel genes. One is highly expressed exclusively in visceral endoderm, one is expressed in ectodermal and endodermal tissues, and the third proves to be an early marker of prospective and differentiated surface ectoderm as well as being expressed in endoderm and its derivatives.

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