We have isolated Cngsc, a hydra homologue of goosecoid gene. The homeodomain of Cngsc is identical to the vertebrate (65-72%) and Drosophila (70%) orthologues. When injected into the ventral side of an early Xenopus embryo, Cngsc induces a partial secondary axis. During head formation, Cngsc expression appears prior to, and directly above, the zone where the tentacles will emerge, but is not observed nearby when the single apical tentacle is formed. This observation indicates that the expression of the gene is not necessary for the formation of a tentacle per se. Rather, it may be involved in defining the border between the hypostome and the tentacle zone. When Cngsc(+) tip of an early bud is grafted into the body column, it induces a secondary axis, while the adjacent Cngsc(−) region has much weaker inductive capacities. Thus, Cngsc is expressed in a tissue that acts as an organizer. Cngsc is also expressed in the sensory neurons of the tip of the hypostome and in the epithelial endodermal cells of the upper part of the body column. The plausible roles of Cngsc in organizer function, head formation and anterior neuron differentiation are similar to roles goosecoid plays in vertebrates and Drosophila. It suggests widespread evolutionary conservation of the function of the gene.

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