The embryonic neural crest is a unique group of cells that gives rise to the peripheral nervous system as well as many other cell types. Most of the work describing the behavior and specification of these cells has been done in the avian system, a system amenable to experimental manipulations such as tissue grafting, cell transplantation and lineage tracing. This work has been greatly facilitated by the use of molecular markers of neural crest cells such as HNK-1 and slug, markers that are not yet available for the study of mouse neural crest. Here we demonstrate that Hfh2 (HNF3 forkhead homologue 2), a member of the 'winged helix' or 'forkhead' transcription factor gene family, is expressed in premigratory and migrating neural crest cells in the early mouse embryo and in motorneuron progenitors in the developing spinal cord. Using linkage analysis we have localized the Hfh2 gene to chromosome 4 at 44.91 cM from the centromere.
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