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Published September 1991 | Published
Journal Article Open

Mammalian achaete-scute homolog 1 is transiently expressed by spatially restricted subsets of early neuroepithelial and neural crest cells


Using monoclonal antibodies, we have examined the expression pattern of MASH1, a basic helix-loop-helix protein that is a mammalian homolog of the Drosophila achaete-scute proteins. In Drosophila, achaete-scute genes are required for the determination of a subset of neurons. In the rat embryo, MASH1 expression is confined to subpopulations of neural precursor cells. The induction of MASH1 precedes, but is extinguished upon, overt neuronal differentiation. MASH1 is expressed in the forebrain by spatially restricted domains of neuroepithelium and in the peripheral nervous system exclusively by precursors of sympathetic and enteric neurons. The features of early and transient expression, in spatially restricted subpopulations of neural precursors, are similar to those observed for achaete-scute. Thus, the amino acid sequence conservation between MASH1 and achaete-scute is reflected in a parallel conservation of cell type specificity of expression, similar to the case of mammalian MyoD and Drosophila nautilus. These data support the idea that helix-loop-helix proteins may represent an evolutionarily conserved family of cell-type determination genes, of which MASH1 is the first neural-specific member identified in vertebrates.

Additional Information

© 1991 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The Authors acknowledge that six months after the full-issue publication date, the Article will be distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) Received June 21, 1991; accepted July 10, 1991. We express our gratitude for the central contribution and expert performance of Susan Ou of the Caltech Monoclonal Antibody Facility, under the direction of Paul Patterson, in producing monoclonal antibodies to MASHl. We thank Karina Cramer for help with the serial reconstruction, the Caltech Graphic Arts facility for expert photographic assistance, Helen Walsh for typing, and Barbara Wold, Paul Patterson, John Montgomery, Antonio Garcia-Bellido, and Thomas Jessell for their comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Sloan Foundation Faculty Fellowship in Neurosciences (to D.J.A.), a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, and a Searle Scholars Award. J.E.J. is a postdoctoral fellow of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The publication costs of this article were defrayed in part by payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 USC section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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