Pax3 is a transcription factor expressed in somitic mesoderm, dorsal neural tube and pre-migratory neural crest during embryonic development. We have previously identified cis-acting enhancer elements within the proximal upstream genomic region of Pax3 that are sufficient to direct functional expression of Pax3 in neural crest. These elements direct expression of a reporter gene to pre-migratory neural crest in transgenic mice, and transgenic expression of a Pax3 cDNA using these elements is sufficient to rescue neural crest development in mice otherwise lacking endogenous Pax3. We show here that deletion of these enhancer sequences by homologous recombination is insufficient to abrogate neural crest expression of Pax3 and results in viable mice. We identify a distinct enhancer in the fourth intron that is also capable of mediating neural crest expression in transgenic mice and zebrafish. Our analysis suggests the existence of functionally redundant neural crest enhancer modules for Pax3.
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