Expression patterns of engrailed-like proteins in the chick embryo

Dev Dyn. 1992 Apr;193(4):370-88. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001930410.


The protein products of both of the identified chick engrailed-like (En) genes, chick En-1 and chick En-2, are localized in cells of the developing brain, mandibular arch, spinal cord, dermatome, and ventral limb bud ectoderm, as demonstrated by labeling with the polyclonal antiserum alpha Enhb-1 developed by Davis et al. (Development 111:281-298, 1991). A subpopulation of cephalic neural crest cells is also En-protein-positive. The monoclonal antibody 4D9 recognizes the chick En-2 gene product exclusively (Patel et al.: Cell 58:955-968, 1989; Davis et al., 1991) and colocalizes with chick En-2 mRNA in the developing head region of the chick embryo as shown by in situ hybridization (Gardner et al.: J. Neurosci. Res. 21:426-437, 1988). In the present study we examine the pattern of alpha Enhb-1 and 4D9 localization throughout the chick embryo from the first appearance of antibody (Ab)-positive cells at stage 8 (Hamburger and Hamilton: J. Morphol. 88:49-92, 1951) through stage 28 (1-5.5 days). We compare the localization patterns of the two Abs to each other, as well as to the localization of the monoclonal Ab, HNK-1, which recognizes many neural crest cells, using double- and triple-label fluorescence immunohistochemistry. Most En protein-positive cells in the path of neural crest cell migration are not HNK-1 positive. In detailed examination of alpha Enhb-1 and 4D9 localization, we find previously undetected patterns of En protein localization in the prechordal plate, hindbrain, myotome, ventral body-wall mesoderm, and extraembryonic membranes. Based upon these observations we propose: 1) that En expression in the mesoderm may be induced through interaction with En expressing cells in the neuroectoderm; 2) that En expression in the head mesenchyme is associated with somitomere 4; and 3) that En expression may be involved in epithelial-mesenchymal cell transformations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Chick Embryo / chemistry*
  • Ectoderm / chemistry*
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mesoderm / chemistry*
  • Proteins / analysis*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Proteins