Differential display (DD), an arbitrarily primed RT-PCR fingerprinting technique, is a novel approach for the search of differentially expressed transcripts. Using our improved DD protocol, reproducible cDNA fingerprints were successfully obtained from RNAs of Xenopus laevis embryos at six representative stages. Parallel comparison among the fingerprints revealed a number of bands with differential expression patterns. Analysis with clones of three randomly chosen bands confirmed that their expression patterns were faithfully reflected on fingerprints, thereby proving the reliability and validity of the approach. Nucleotide sequencing of these clones revealed that one is identical with a known transcript (cardiac actin), the second is a novel developmentally regulated gene showing no significant homology with those reported previously, and the last is a close but unique relative of XK endo B gene showing somewhat different spatial expression pattern. These results indicated that the DD analysis provides a rapid and reliable way for the identification of novel differentially expressed genes as well as a unique 'scope' for the survey of the changes in overall gene expression profiles occurring in the early embryonic development of Xenopus as well as of other organisms.
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