The limb muscle precursor cells migrate from the somites and congregate into the dorsal and ventral muscle masses in the limb bud. Complex muscle patterns are formed by successive splitting of the muscle masses and subsequent growth and differentiation in a region-specific manner. Hox genes, known as key regulator genes of cartilage pattern formation in the limb bud, were found to be expressed in the limb muscle precursor cells. We found that HOXA-11 protein was expressed in the premyoblasts in the limb bud, but not in the somitic cells or migrating premyogenic cells in the trunk at stage 18. By stage 24, HOXA-11 expression began to decrease from the posterior halves of the muscle masses. HOXA-13 was expressed strongly in the myoblasts of the posterior part in the dorsal/ventral muscle masses and weakly in a few myoblasts of the anterior part of the dorsal muscle mass. Transplantation of the lateral plate of the presumptive wing bud to the flank induced migration of premyoblasts from somites to the graft. Under these conditions, HOXA-11 expression was induced in the migrating premyoblasts in the ectopic limb buds. Application of retinoic acid at the anterior margin of the limb bud causes duplication of the autopodal cartilage and transformation of the radius to the ulna, and at the same time induces duplication of the muscle pattern along the anteroposterior axis. Under these conditions, HOXA-13 was also induced in the anterior region of the ventral muscles in the zeugopod. These results suggest that Hoxa-11 and Hoxa-13 expression in the migrating premyoblasts is under the control of the limb mesenchyme and the polarizing signal(s). In addition, these results indicate that these Hox genes are involved in muscle patterning in the limb buds.
Coordinated expression of Hoxa-11 and Hoxa-13 during limb muscle patterning
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M. Yamamoto, Y. Gotoh, K. Tamura, M. Tanaka, A. Kawakami, H. Ide, A. Kuroiwa; Coordinated expression of Hoxa-11 and Hoxa-13 during limb muscle patterning. Development 1 April 1998; 125 (7): 1325–1335. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.125.7.1325
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