prx-1 functions cooperatively with another paired-related homeobox gene, prx-2, to maintain cell fates within the craniofacial mesenchyme.
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The paired-related homeobox gene, prx-1, is expressed in the postmigratory cranial mesenchyme of all facial prominences and is required for the formation of proximal first arch derivatives. We introduced lacZ into the prx-1 locus to study the developmental fate of cells destined to express prx-1 in the prx-1 mutant background. lacZ was normally expressed in prx-1(neo); prx-1(lacZ )mutant craniofacial mesenchyme up until 11.5 d.p.c. At later time points, lacZ expression was lost from structures that are defective in the prx-1(neo) mutant mice. A related gene, prx-2, demonstrated overlapping expression with prx-1. To test the idea that prx-1 and prx-2 perform redundant functions, we generated prx-1(neo;)prx-2 compound mutant mice. Double mutant mice had novel phenotypes in which the rostral aspect of the mandible was defective, the mandibular incisor arrested as a single, bud-stage tooth germ and Meckel's cartilage was absent. Expression of two markers for tooth development, pax9 and patched, were downregulated. Using a transgene that marks a subset of prx-1-expressing cells in the craniofacial mesenchyme, we showed that cells within the hyoid arch take on the properties of the first branchial arch. These data suggest that prx-1 and prx-2 coordinately regulate gene expression in cells that contribute to the distal aspects of the mandibular arch mesenchyme and that prx-1 and prx-2 play a role in the maintenance of cell fate within the craniofacial mesenchyme.
author list (cited authors)
Lu, M. F., Cheng, H. T., Kern, M. J., Potter, S. S., Tran, B., Diekwisch, T. G., & Martin, J. F.