OTX2 homeoprotein in the developing central nervous system and migratory cells of the olfactory area

Antonello Mallamaci, Erica Di Blas, Paola Briata, Edoardo Boncinelli, Giorgio Corte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed the distribution of OTX2 during mouse development. OTX2 is a homeoprotein encoded by Otx2, a vertebrate homeobox gene expressed in the developing brain and anterior head regions. The protein is already detectable in pre-streak embryos, in nuclei of embryonic ectoderm or epiblast and primitive endoderm or hypoblast. Its distribution is uniform along the entire epiblast, while showing an antero-posterior gradient along the hypoblast at the time when primitive streak first forms. Between embryonic day 7 (E7) and E7.5 there is a progressive confinement of the protein to the anterior ectoderm corresponding to the forming headfold. At E7.5-E7.8, the protein is mainly confined in this region but is still present, though at lower level, in more posterior ectoderm. Starting from day 8 of development it is essentially confined to anterior neuroectoderm corresponding to presumptive fore- and midbrain. Its subsequent distribution in forebrain, midbrain, developing isthmo-cerebellum and posterior central nervous system is analyzed in detail. Of particular interest is the presence of OTX2 in nuclei of cells of the olfactory system starting from its origin in the olfactory placode. OTX2 protein is present in some cells of the olfactory epithelium, in both the major olfactory epithelium and the vomero-nasal organ, and in scattered migratory cells present in the mesenchyme outside it. These cells surround the axon bundles of the olfactory nerve along its path from the olfactory epithelium in the nasal cavities to the olfactory bulb in rostral telencephalon and include both ensheathing glial cells and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)-positive cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1996


  • Brain
  • Cerebellum
  • Development
  • Homeobox
  • Olfactory system
  • OTX2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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