Detailed information about stage-specific changes in gene expression is crucial for understanding the gene regulatory networks underlying development and the various signal transduction pathways contributing to morphogenesis. Here we describe the global gene expression dynamics during early murine limb development, when cartilage, tendons, muscle, joints, vasculature and nerves are specified and the musculoskeletal system of limbs is established. We used whole-genome microarrays to identify genes with differential expression at 5 stages of limb development (E9.5 to 13.5), during fore- and hind-limb patterning. We found that the onset of limb formation is characterized by an up-regulation of transcription factors, which is followed by a massive activation of genes during E10.5 and E11.5 which levels off at later time points. Among the 3520 genes identified as significantly up-regulated in the limb, we find ~30% to be novel, dramatically expanding the repertoire of candidate genes likely to function in the limb. Hierarchical and stage-specific clustering identified expression profiles that are likely to correlate with functional programs during limb development and further characterization of these transcripts will provide new insights into specific tissue patterning processes. Here, we provide for the first time a comprehensive analysis of developmentally regulated genes during murine limb development, and provide some novel insights into the expression dynamics governing limb morphogenesis.
- Gene Expression Profiling
- Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
- Limb Buds/anatomy & histology
- Organ Specificity/genetics
- Promoter Regions, Genetic/genetics
- Time Factors