Developmental expression of chicken FOXN1 and putative target genes during feather development.

TitleDevelopmental expression of chicken FOXN1 and putative target genes during feather development.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsDarnell DK, Zhang LS, Hannenhalli S, Yaklichkin SY
JournalInt J Dev Biol
Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Biological Evolution, Blotting, Western, Cell Differentiation, Cells, Cultured, Chick Embryo, Chickens, Cloning, Molecular, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Epidermis, Feathers, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, In Situ Hybridization, Molecular Sequence Data, Morphogenesis, Phylogeny, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, RNA, Messenger, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid

FOXN1 is a member of the forkhead box family of transcription factors. FOXN1 is crucial for hair outgrowth and thymus differentiation in mammals. Unlike the thymus, which is found in all amniotes, hair is an epidermal appendage that arose after the last shared common ancestor between mammals and birds, and hair and feathers differ markedly in their differentiation and gene expression. Here, we show that FOXN1 is expressed in embryonic chicken feathers, nails and thymus, demonstrating an evolutionary conservation that goes beyond obvious homology. At embryonic day (ED) 12, FOXN1 is expressed in some feather buds and at ED13 expression extends along the length of the feather filament. At ED14 FOXN1 mRNA is restricted to the proximal feather filament and is not detectable in distal feather shafts. At the base of the feather, FOXN1 is expressed in the epithelium of the feather sheath and distal barb and marginal plate, whereas in the midsection FOXN1 transcripts are mainly detected in the barb plates of the feather filament. FOXN1 is also expressed in claws; however, no expression was detected in skin or scales. Despite expression of FOXN1 in developing feathers, examination of chick homologs of five putative mammalian FOXN1 target genes shows that, while these genes are expressed in feathers, there is little similarity to the FOXN1 expression pattern, suggesting that some gene regulatory networks may have diverged during evolution of epidermal appendages.

PubMed ID24860996
Grant ListGM085226 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
P41HD064559 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States