Expression of a Delta homologue in prospective neurons in the chick.
Henrique D., Adam J., Myat A., Chitnis A., Lewis J., Ish-Horowicz D.
The product of the Delta gene, acting as ligand, and that of the Notch gene, acting as receptor, are key components in a lateral-inhibition signalling pathway that regulates the detailed patterning of many different tissues in Drosophila. During neurogenesis in particular, neural precursors, by expressing Delta, inhibit neighbouring Notch-expressing cells from becoming committed to a neural fate. Vertebrates are known to have several Notch genes, but their functions are unclear and their ligands hitherto unidentified. Here we identify and describe a chick Delta homologue, C-Delta-1. We show that C-Delta-1 is expressed in prospective neurons during neurogenesis, as new cells are being born and their fates decided. Our data from the chick, combined with parallel evidence from Xenopus, suggest that both the Delta/Notch signalling mechanism and its role in neurogenesis have been conserved in vertebrates.