The advancement in gene knockout and transgenesis have brought about enormous improvement in our understanding of mouse embryogenesis in the past decade or so. On the other hand, relatively little is known about human embryogenesis due largely to the lack of easy access to human embryos and tissues for biomedical studies. We have previously isolated a novel zinc finger gene, ZNF268, from a 3-week-old human embryo cDNA library in an effort to identify genes important for human embryonic development. To investigate the potential involvement of ZNF268 in human embryogenesis, we report here the spatial and temporal regulation of its expression during development. Northern blot and Western blot analyses revealed that ZNF268 is expressed in early embryos, predominantly, if not exclusively, in fetal liver with little detectable expression in other fetal organs. Interestingly, unlike most zinc finger proteins, ZNF268 protein was found to be localized mainly in the cytoplasm of embryonic hepatocytes. This subcellular localization was substantiated by the localization of EGFP-ZNF268 fusion protein overexpressed in the transfected COS7 cells. These results suggest that ZNF268 plays a role in early human liver development most likely by functioning through a cytoplasmic mechanism.
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