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Keywords:

  • embryo;
  • ephrins;
  • Ephs;
  • expression;
  • Gallus;
  • receptor tyrosine kinase

Abstract

The Eph family of receptor tyrosine kinases and their ligands, the ephrins, are membrane-bound proteins that mediate bidirectional signals between adjacent cells. By modulating cytoskeleton dynamics affecting cell motility and adhesion, Ephs and ephrins orchestrate cell movements during multiple morphogenetic processes, including gastrulation, segmentation, angiogenesis, axonal pathfinding, and neural crest cell migration. The full repertoire of developmental Eph/ephrin functions remains uncertain, however, because coexpression of multiple receptor and ligand family members, and promiscuous interactions between them, can result in functional redundancy. A complete understanding of expression patterns, therefore, is a necessary prerequisite to understanding function. Here, we present a comprehensive expression overview for 10 Eph and ephrin genes during the first 48 hr of chick embryo development. First, dynamic expression domains are described for each gene between Hamburger and Hamilton stages 4 and 12; second, comparative analyses are presented of Eph/ephrin expression patterns in the primitive streak, the somites, the vasculature, and the brain. Complex spatially and temporally dynamic expression patterns are revealed that suggest novel functions for Eph and ephrin family members in both known and previously unrecognized processes. This study will provide a valuable resource for further experimental investigations of Eph and ephrin functions during early embryonic development. Developmental Dynamics 228:128–142, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.