Expression of Xenopus laevis Lhx2 during eye development and evidence for divergent expression among vertebrates



Members of the LIM homeodomain (LIM-HD) family of proteins are double zinc-finger containing transcription factors with important functions in pattern formation and cell lineage determination. The LIM-HD family member Lhx2 is required for normal eye, liver, and central nervous system formation. Lhx2−/− mice lack eyes, and experiments in Xenopus predict that Lhx2 forms a regulatory network with other eye field transcription factors to specify the eye field during eye formation. Here, we describe the structure and developmental expression pattern of the Xenopus laevis homologue, XLhx2. We show that XLhx2 shares significant amino acid sequence identity with other vertebrate Lhx2 proteins and Drosophila apterous (ap). The expression patterns of XLhx2 in the early neural plate and during eye development are consistent with a role in eye field specification and retinal differentiation. Despite highly similar expression patterns in the mouse and Xenopus central nervous system, divergent expression patterns were also observed. Phylogentic analysis confirmed the identity of the isolated cDNA as a Xenopus ortholog of Lhx2. Therefore, in spite of structural similarities, the mouse and Xenopus Lhx2 expression patterns differ, suggesting potential functional differences in these species. Developmental Dynamics 235:1133–1141, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.