Allometric growth of the trunk leads to the rostral shift of the pelvic fin in teleost fishes.
We have used Hoxd10 expression as a primary marker of the lumbosacral region to examine the early programming of regional characteristics within the posterior spinal cord of the chick embryo. Hoxd10 is uniquely expressed at a high level in the lumbosacral cord, from the earliest stages of motor column formation through stages of motoneuron axon outgrowth. To define the time period when this gene pattern is determined, we assessed Hoxd10 expression after transposition of lumbosacral and thoracic segments at early neural tube stages. We present evidence that there is an early prepattern for Hoxd10 expression in the lumbosacral neural tube; a prepattern that is established at or before stages of neural tube closure. Cells within more posterior lumbosacral segments have a greater ability to develop high level Hoxd10 expression than the most anterior lumbosacral segments or thoracic segments. During subsequent neural tube stages, this prepattern is amplified and stabilized by environmental signals such that all lumbosacral segments acquire the ability to develop high levels of Hoxd10, independent of their axial environment. Results from experiments in which posterior neural segments and/or paraxial mesoderm segments were placed at different axial levels suggest that signals setting Hoxd10 expression form a decreasing posterior-to-anterior gradient. Our experiments do not, however, implicate adjacent paraxial mesoderm as the only source of graded signals. We suggest, instead, that signals from more posterior embryonic regions influence Hoxd10 expression after the early establishment of a regional prepattern. Concurrent analyses of patterns of LIM proteins and motor column organization after experimental surgeries suggest that the programming of these characteristics follows similar rules.