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Development. 1999 Nov;126(22):5171-9.

Anterior patterning by synergistic activity of the early gastrula organizer and the anterior germ layer tissues of the mouse embryo.

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  • 1Embryology Unit, Children's Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 23, Wentworthville, NSW 2145, Australia.


Fragments of the germ layer tissues isolated from the early-primitive-streak (early-streak) stage mouse embryos were tested for axis induction activity by transplantation to late-gastrula (late-streak to early-bud) stage host embryos. The posterior epiblast fragment that contains the early gastrula organizer was able to recruit the host tissues to form an ectopic axis. However, the most anterior neural gene that was expressed in the ectopic axis was Krox20 that marks parts of the hindbrain, but markers of the mid- and forebrain (Otx2 and En1) were not expressed. Anterior visceral endoderm or the anterior epiblast alone did not induce any ectopic neural tissue. However, when these two anterior germ layer tissues were transplanted together, they can induce the formation of ectopic host-derived neural tissues but these tissues rarely expressed anterior neural genes and did not show any organization of an ectopic axis. Therefore, although the anterior endoderm and epiblast together may display some inductive activity, they do not act like a classical organizer. Induction of the anterior neural genes in the ectopic axis was achieved only when a combination of the posterior epiblast fragment, anterior visceral endoderm and the anterior epiblast was transplanted to the host embryo. The formation of anterior neural structures therefore requires the synergistic interaction of the early gastrula organizer and anterior germ layer tissues.

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