Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 217, Issue 6, pp 459–468 | Cite as

Hau-Pax6A expression in the central nervous system of the leech embryo

Original Article


The leech Helobdella sp. (Austin) has two genes of the Pax6 subfamily, one of which is characterized in detail. Hau-Pax6A was expressed during embryonic development in a pattern similar to other bilaterian animals. RNA was detected in cellular precursors of the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral cells including a population associated with the developing eye. The CNS of the mature leech is a ventral nerve cord composed of segmental ganglia, and embryonic Hau-Pax6A expression was primarily localized to the N teloblast lineage that generates the majority of ganglionic neurons. Expression began when the ganglion primordia were four cells in length and was initially restricted to a single cell, ns.a, whose descendants will form the ganglion’s anterior edge. At later stages, the Hau-Pax6A expression pattern expanded to include additional CNS precursors, including some descendants of the O teloblast. Expression persisted through the early stages of ganglion morphogenesis but disappeared from the segmented body trunk at the time of neuronal differentiation. The timing and iterated pattern of Hau-Pax6A expression in the leech embryo suggests that this gene may play a role in the segmental patterning of CNS morphogenesis.


Pax6 Nervous system Segmentation Eye development Leech embryo 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian K. Quigley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xuanhua Xie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marty Shankland
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental BiologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Cellular and Molecular BiologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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