The shoulder and pelvic girdles represent the proximal bones of the appendicular skeleton that connect the anterior and posterior limbs to the body trunk. Although the limb is a well-known model in developmental biology, the genetic mechanisms controlling the development of the more proximal elements of the appendicular skeleton are still unknown. The knock-out of Pax1 has shown that this gene is involved in patterning the acromion, while the expression pattern candidates Hoxc6 as a gene involved in scapula development. Surprisingly, we have found that scapula and ilium do not develop in Emx2 knock-out mice. In the homozygous mutants, developmental abnormalities of the brain cortex, the most anterior structure of the primary axis of the body, are associated with important defects of the girdles, the more proximal elements of the secondary axis. These abnormalities suggest that the molecular mechanisms patterning the more proximal elements of the limb axis are different from those patterning the rest of appendicular skeleton. While Hox genes specify the different segments of the more distal part of the appendicular skeleton forming the limb, Emx2 is concerned with the more proximal elements constituting the girdles.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.