The variability of fibre characteristics affects the processing performance of wool and therefore the value of the wool clip. These variations originate during development in utero, and manifest as patterns of fibre growth that differ between body regions. Two transcription factors, Msx1 and Msx2, have previously been linked to regional specification within the skin and alsoact as regulators of differentiation within the hair follicle matrix. In this study, we describe the expression patterns of Msx1and Msx2in multiple body sites of foetuses and adult crossbreed ewes. In foetal skin, the expression of both Msx1and Msx2was greatest in the regions of lower eventual follicle density. In adults, both anterio-posterior and dorso-ventral gradients were observed in Msx1expression across the fleece bearing skin. Higher concentrations of Msx1and Msx2transcripts were present in adultsthan foetuses, possibly reflecting additional roles in regulating the differentiation and growth of the wool fibre shaft. These results are consistent with the involvement of Msx1 and Msx2 in the development of skin regions, wool follicle growth, and anterio-posterior and dorso-ventral gradients of wool characteristics in sheep
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 67, Wanaka, 345-350, 2007
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