Combinatorial expression of zebrafish Brn-1- and Brn-2-related POU genes in the embryonic brain, pronephric primordium, and pharyngeal arches

Dev Dyn. 2000 Jun;218(2):345-58. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0177(200006)218:2<345::AID-DVDY8>3.0.CO;2-V.


Vertebrate class III POU genes are widely expressed in the embryonic and adult central nervous system, where they act as transcriptional regulators of cell- and/or region-specific gene expression. We isolated four zebrafish class III POU genes, named zp-12, zp-23, zp-47 and zp-50. In this study, we examined the developmental expression patterns of the Brn-1- and Brn-2-related zp-12, zp-23 and zp-47 genes by means of whole-mount in situ hybridization. Similarly to their mammalian orthologues, the major expression site of all zebrafish zp genes is the CNS. Neurectodermal expression was first detected at the beginning of somitogenesis in spatially restricted segment-like domains in different parts of the neural plate. During somitogenesis transcript distributions changed from highly restricted to widespread but nevertheless distinct patterns found in all major subdivisions of the CNS. While zp-47 expression was detected exclusively in the CNS, localized expression of zp-12 and zp-23 was also found in the pronephric primordium and in cell clusters within the mandibular and hyoid arches. Furthermore, zp-23 transcripts were transiently detected in a restricted region of the paraxial mesendoderm and, at late embryogenesis stages, in the auditory vesicles. The early regionalized expression of all three zp genes is compatible with roles in regional specification of the neural plate. Comparison of the distinct yet overlapping expression of zp-12, zp-23, zp-47 and the previously characterized zp-50 gene implies both unique, as well as redundant functions for each family member. We propose that coordinate expression of particular combinations of class III POU genes contribute to pattern formation or cell fate determination in the developing CNS and other structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Branchial Region / embryology
  • Branchial Region / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides / genetics*
  • POU Domain Factors
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / metabolism
  • Zebrafish Proteins


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • POU Domain Factors
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • pou3f3a protein, zebrafish
  • transcription factor Brn-2