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T is the founding member of the T-box family of transcription factors; family members are critical for cell fate decisions and tissue morphogenesis throughout the animal kingdom. T is expressed in the primitive streak and notochord with mouse mutant studies revealing its critical role in mesoderm formation in the primitive streak and notochord integrity. We previously demonstrated that misexpression of Tbx6 in the paraxial and lateral plate mesoderm results in embryos resembling Tbx15 and Tbx18 nulls. This, together with results from in vitro transcriptional assays, suggested that ectopically expressed Tbx6 can compete with endogenously expressed Tbx15 and Tbx18 at the binding sites of target genes. Since T-box proteins share a similar DNA binding domain, we hypothesized that misexpressing T in the paraxial and lateral plate mesoderm would also interfere with the endogenous Tbx15 and Tbx18, causing embryonic phenotypes resembling those seen upon Tbx6 expression in the somites and limbs. Interestingly, ectopic T expression led to distinct embryonic phenotypes, specifically, reduced-sized somites in embryos expressing the highest levels of T, which ultimately affects axis length and neural tube morphogenesis. We further demonstrate that ectopic T leads to ectopic expression of Tbx6 and Mesogenin 1, known targets of T. These results suggests that ectopic T expression contributes to the phenotype by activating its own targets rather than via a straight competition with endogenous T-box factors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Gregory P Campbell, Deborah R Farkas, Deborah L Chapman. Ectopic expression of T in the paraxial mesoderm disrupts somite maturation in the mouse. Developmental biology. 2022 May;485:37-49

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PMID: 35276131

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