Kobayashi, M., Toyama, R., Takeda, H., Dawid, I.B., and Kawakami, K. (1998) Overexpression of the forebrain-specific homeobox gene six3 induces rostral forebrain enlargement in zebrafish. Development (Cambridge, England). 125:2973-2982.
The Drosophila homeobox gene sine oculis is expressed in the rostral region of the embryo in early development and is essential for eye and brain formation. Its murine homolog, Six3, is expressed in the anterior neural plate and eye anlage, and may have crucial functions in eye and brain development. In this study, we describe the cloning and expression of zebrafish six3, the apparent ortholog of the mouse Six3 gene. Zebrafish six3 transcripts are first seen in hypoblast cells in early gastrula embryos and are found in the anterior axial mesendoderm through gastrulation. six3 expression in the head ectoderm begins at late gastrula. Throughout the segmentation period, six3 is expressed in the rostral region of the prospective forebrain. Overexpression of six3 in zebrafish embryos induced enlargement of the rostral forebrain, enhanced expression of pax2 in the optic stalk and led to a general disorganization of the brain. Disruption of either the Six domain or the homeodomain abolish these effects, implying that these domains are essential for six3 gene function. Our results suggest that the vertebrate Six3 genes are involved in the formation of the rostral forebrain.