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Phenotypic Characterization of the Murine Nkx2.6 Homeobox Gene by Gene Targeting

American Society for Microbiology
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  • Mammalian Genetic Models With Minimal Or Complex Phenotypes


The NK-2 homeobox genes have been shown to play critical roles in the development of specific organs and tissues. Nkx2.6 is a member of the NK-2 homeobox gene family and is most closely related to the Drosophila tinman gene. Nkx2.6 is expressed in the caudal pharyngeal pouches, the caudal heart progenitors, the sinus venosus, and the outflow tract of the heart and in a short segment of the gut at early stages of embryogenesis. To investigate the function of Nkx2.6 in vivo, we generated mice with null mutations of Nkx2.6 by the gene targeting technique. Homozygous Nkx2.6 mutant mice were viable and fertile. There were no obvious abnormalities in the caudal pharyngeal pouch derivatives (the thymus, parathyroid glands, and thyroid gland), heart, and gut. Expression of Nkx2.6 overlaps that of Nkx2.5 in the pharynx and heart and that of Nkx2.3 in the pharynx. Interestingly, in mutant embryos homozygous for Nkx2.6, Nkx2.5 expression extended to the lateral side of the pharynx, suggesting a compensatory function of Nkx2.5 in the mutant pharyngeal pouches.

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