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Keywords:

  • development;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • unknown genes;
  • fish;
  • medaka

Abstract

Despite the fact that a large body of factors that play important roles in development are known, there are still large gaps in understanding the genetic pathways that govern these processes. To find previously unknown genes that are expressed during embryonic development, we optimized and performed an automated whole-mount in situ hybridization screen on medaka embryos at the end of somitogenesis. Partial cDNA sequences were compared against public databases and identified according to similarities found to other genes and gene products. Among 321 isolated genes showing specific expression in the central nervous system in at least one of five stages of development, 55.14% represented genes whose functions are already documented (in fish or other model organisms). Additionally, 16.51% were identified as conserved unknown genes or genes with unknown function. We provide new data on eight of these genes that presented a restricted expression pattern that allowed for formulating testable hypotheses on their developmental roles, and that were homologous to mammalian molecules of unknown function. Thus, gene expression screening in medaka is an efficient tool for isolating new regulators of embryonic development, and can complement genome-sequencing projects that are producing a high number of genes without ascribed functions. Developmental Dynamics 234:698–708, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.