RNA binding proteins regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level and play important roles in embryonic development. Here, we report the cloning and expression of Samba, a Xenopus hnRNP that is maternally expressed and persists at least until tail bud stages. During gastrula stages, Samba is enriched in the dorsal regions. Subsequently, its expression is elevated only in neural and neural crest tissues. In the latter, Samba expression overlaps with that of Slug in migratory neural crest cells. Thereafter, Samba is maintained in the neural crest derivatives, as well as other neural tissues, including the anterior and posterior neural tube and the eyes. Overexpression of Samba in the animal pole leads to defects in neural crest migration and cranial cartilage development. Thus, Samba encodes a Xenopus hnRNP that is expressed early in neural and neural crest derivatives and may regulate crest cells migratory behavior.
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