Int. J. Dev. Biol. 45: 347 - 355 (2001)
© UPV/EHU Press

Defects of the body plan of mutant embryos lacking Lim1, Otx2 or Hnf3beta activity.

S J Kinder, T E Tsang, S L Ang, R R Behringer and P P Tam

Embryology Unit, Children's Medical Research Institute, Wentworthville, NSW, Australia.

ABSTRACT The orientation of the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis was examined in gastrula-stage Hnf3beta, Otx2 and Lim1 null mutant embryos that display defective axis development. In situ hybridization analysis of the expression pattern of genes associated with the posterior germ layer tissues and the primitive streak (T, Wnt3 and Fgf8) and anterior endoderm (Cer1 and Sox17) revealed that the A-P axis of mutant embryos remains aligned with the proximo-distal plane of the gastrula. Further analysis revealed that cells which express Chrd activity are either absent in Hnf3beta mutant embryos or localised in heterotopic sites in Lim1 and Otx2 null mutants. Lim1-expressing cells are present in the Hnf3beta mutant embryo albeit in heterotopic sites. In all three mutants, Gsc-expressing cells are missing from the anterior mesendoderm. These findings suggest that although some cells with organizer activity may be present in the mutant embryo, they are not properly localised and fail to contribute to the axial mesoderm of the head. By contrast, in T/T mutant embryos that display normal head fold development, the expression domains of organizer, primitive streak and anterior endoderm genes are regionalised correctly in the gastrula.