Cbfa2 (AML1) encodes the DNA-binding subunit of a transcription factor in the small family of core-binding factors (CBFs). Cbfa2 is required for the differentiation of all definitive hematopoietic cells, but not for primitive erythropoiesis. Here we show that Cbfa2 is expressed in definitive hematopoietic progenitor cells, and in endothelial cells in sites from which these hematopoietic cells are thought to emerge. Endothelial cells expressing Cbfa2 are in the yolk sac, the vitelline and umbilical arteries, and in the ventral aspect of the dorsal aorta in the aorta/genital ridge/mesonephros (AGM) region. Endothelial cells lining the dorsal aspect of the aorta, and elsewhere in the embryo, do not express Cbfa2. Cbfa2 appears to be required for maintenance of Cbfa2 expression in the endothelium, and for the formation of intra-aortic hematopoietic clusters from the endothelium.

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