An Investigation of the Unique Expression of Zic Genes and the Role of Zic2 in the Forebrain Patterning of Developing Mice
Athappilly, Geetha K.
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Transcription factors play an important role in the development and patterning of organisms. By directly binding to DNA sequences, transcription factors regulate the expression of various genes. The controlled expression of genes ultimately governs the specification of cells and the development of the organism. Drosophila opa, human GLI oncogene, and Caenorhabditis elegans tra1 are various genes, which encode transcription factors involved in the patterning process of their respective organism. The Zic family is a novel group of genes encoding transcription factors, which show high levels of structural homology with the above genes. Zic genes are seen in a variety of vertebrates and are believed to be involved in many developmental processes within the organism. Previous experiments have shown that mice with altered levels of Zic expression have serious physical abnormalities (Nagai et al., 1997). To analyze the role of the Zic2 gene in brain development, this study examined the brain tissue of mice with reduced levels of Zic2. Brain sections and in situ hybridization techniques revealed a major problem in the rostral-caudal patterning of the forebrain region in the mutant mice. To further understand the role of these genes in the development of mice, the expression of the Zic genes was analyzed at various embryonic stages. The widespread expression of these genes at different stages suggests these genes are involved in the body patterning of the developing mouse. Furthermore, the differential expression of the genes suggests that they may have distinct roles in development.