Immunohistochemical analysis of the Brachyury protein in wild-type and mutant mouse embryos

Dev Biol. 1994 Jan;161(1):179-93. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1994.1019.


The murine Brachyury (T) gene is required in posterior mesoderm formation and axial development. Mutant embryos lacking T gene function are deficient in notochord differentiation and posterior mesoderm formation, but make anterior mesoderm. Posterior axial development requires increasing T activity along the rostrocaudal axis. The T gene is transiently transcribed in nascent and migrating mesoderm and continuously in the notochord. The maintenance of T expression in the notochord depends, directly or indirectly, on wild-type T activity. In Xenopus it has been shown that the onset of T expression occurs in response to mesoderm-inducing growth factors. The T protein is binding to DNA and is probably involved in the control of gene expression. Here we show that the T protein is located in the nucleus. We have analyzed the expression pattern of T protein in wild-type and mutant embryos from early primitive streak formation to the end of the tail bud stage. Throughout all stages of mesoderm formation T protein is transiently present in nascent and migrating mesoderm. In the notochord T protein persists to the end of the tail bud stage. It is also transiently detectable in the forming gut endoderm and in prospective neuroectoderm of later embryos. This shows that T expression is not strictly correlated with a commitment of cells to mesoderm. The analysis of the tail development of TWis/+ mutant embryos demonstrated that the formation of the neural tube, gut, and somites from the tail bud proceeds in the absence of a notochord. The maintenance and differentiation of these structures, however, seems to depend on signals from the notochord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / chemistry*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Female
  • Fetal Proteins / analysis*
  • Fetal Proteins / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Pregnancy
  • T-Box Domain Proteins*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fetal Proteins
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Brachyury protein