The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40: 245 - 253 (1996)

Vol 40, Issue 1

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Germany

A fork head related multigene family is transcribed in Xenopus laevis embryos

Published: 1 February 1996

J Lef, P Dege, M Scheucher, V Forsbach-Birk, J H Clement and W Knöchel

Abteilung Biochemie, Universität Ulm, Germany.


We have isolated and sequenced ten different members of the fork head/HNF-3 multigene family from Xenopus laevis which have been termed Xenopus fork head domain related (XFD) genes 1 to 10. Another four isolated genes (XFD' genes) represent pseudo-allelic variants which arose by an ancient tetraploidization within this species. Whereas all genes of this multigene family exhibit a high degree of sequence homology within the evolutionary conserved fork head domain, sequences outside this module are substantially different. Based upon sequence homologies over the entire coding sequences, XFD-7/7' represent the Xenopus homologs to the rodent hepatocyte nuclear factor HNF-3 alpha, while XFD-3/3' encode the homologs to HNF-3 beta. Here we present an analysis of the temporal transcription pattern of XFD genes 1 to 10 during embryogenesis and in some adult tissues. Eight of these XFD genes are activated during embryonic development, but show different and distinct transcription profiles. The localization of transcripts was determined by whole-mount in situ hybridization. Although transcription of individual XFD genes partially overlaps, each gene is characterized by means of a specific spatial pattern of transcriptional activity.

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