Expression of the N-myc proto-oncogene during the early development of Xenopus laevis

P. D. Vize, A. Vaughan, P. Krieg

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21 Scopus citations


The N-myc proto-oncogene is expressed in a wide range of tissues during mammalian embryogenesis. This observation, along with the oncogenic capacity of this gene, has led to the suggestion that N-myc plays an important role in early development. However, due to the complexity of the expression pattern and the difficulty of manipulating mammalian embryos, little progress has been made towards understanding the developmental function of this gene. To enable a more detailed analysis of the role of this gene in early development, a study of the Xenopus homologue of N-myc was undertaken. Xenopus N-myc cDNA clones were isolated from a neurula library using a murine N-myc probe. Analysis of the timing of expression of N-myc mRNA and of the distribution of N-myc protein during Xenopus development indicate that this gene may be playing an important role in the formation of a number of embryonic structures, including the nervous system. N-myc is initially expressed as a maternal RNA, but this mRNA is degraded by the gastrula stage of development. Zygotic expression does not commence until late neurula. Examination of the distribution of the N-myc protein by whole-mount immunohistochemistry indicates that the early embryonic expression occurs in the central nervous system, the neural crest, the somites and the epidermis. Later expression is mostly within the head and somites. Specific structures within the head that express the protein include the eye, otic vesicle, fore and hindbrain and a number of cranial nerves. The results demonstrate that while N-myc is expressed in the developing nervous system of Xenopus, the timing of expression indicates that it is unlikely to be involved in regulation of the very first stages of neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)885-896
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1990


  • N-myc
  • Neural crest
  • Neurogenesis
  • Oncogene
  • Somite
  • c-myc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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