Musashi-1 (Msi-1) is an RNA-binding protein that plays key roles in the maintenance of neural stem cell states and in their differentiation into neural cells. Msi-1 has also been proposed as a candidate marker gene of mammalian intestinal stem cells and their immediate lineages. In this study, we examined Msi-1 expression in the small intestine and the stomach of both chicken and mouse during embryonic, fetal and postnatal development. In addition, we analyzed the expression of c-hairy-1, a chicken homologue of mouse Hes1, and assessed the proliferative activity of the cells expressing both of these factors. Significantly, during the development of these digestive organs in both species Msi-1 expression showed dynamic changes, suggesting that it is important for digestive organ development, particularly for epithelial differentiation. Based on our observations of the expression patterns of Msi-1 and c-hairy-1 in the adult small intestine, we speculate that Msi-1 is also a stem cell marker of the chicken small intestinal epithelium.
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