We have performed a detailed comparative in situ hybridization analysis to examine the patterns of expression of all the members of the Id gene family (Id1-4) during murine gastrulation and neurogenesis. During gastrulation, both Id1 and Id3 are expressed in the tissues derived from the inner cell mass from 5.5 dpc onward, whereas Id2 is expressed in tissues derived from trophoblasts. Id4 expression is absent during this period of development. Embryonic Id1 messages are detected during gastrulation on the proximal side of the embryonic ectoderm, which is the border between the embryo proper and the extraembryonic tissues, and the expression of Id3 is found throughout the entire embryo proper. This unique pattern of expression of the different members of the Id family suggests a nonredundant role for these genes in antagonizing the activity of bHLH transcription factors during very early mouse development. During neurogenesis, the expression of each member of the Id family is present in an unique pattern along the dorsal-ventral axis of the neural tube: In the early stages of spinal cord development, both Id1 and Id2 are expressed in the roof plate, whereas Id3 is expressed both in the roof and the floor plates. As development progresses, the expression of both Id1 and Id3 is detected in the dividing neuroblasts, whereas Id2 and 4 are expressed in presumptive neurons which are undergoing maturation. The expression patterns of all the members of the Id gene family persist throughout the entire CNS, both in the spinal cord and in the brain. In addition, the characteristic expression of Id2 and Id4 in more mature neurons is reiterated both in the PNS and in the neurons of some of the sensory organs. These data suggest that the expression of different subgroups of the Id gene family may have different physiological consequences and thereby contributes in unique ways to specify the differentiation state of neuronal cells during development.
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