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The E2F family of transcriptional regulators activate or repress gene expression during specific phases of the cell cycle and control various processes including proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation. However, little is known about the developmental roles of E2F transcription factors in higher vertebrates. The chick wing is an excellent system for studying these processes because, in addition to having a rich classical embryology, it is increasingly amenable to molecular and genomic approaches. We show that the human and mouse complement of eight E2F transcription factors is conserved in the chicken and that chicken E2F genes are expressed in different spatial and temporal patterns during wing development. We discuss how the expression patterns of the eight chicken E2F transcription factors might be related to important morphogenetic events. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.