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Development. 2000 Sep;127(17):3839-54.

Reconciling different models of forebrain induction and patterning: a dual role for the hypoblast.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Several models have been proposed for the generation of the rostral nervous system. Among them, Nieuwkoop's activation/transformation hypothesis and Spemann's idea of separate head and trunk/tail organizers have been particularly favoured recently. In the mouse, the finding that the visceral endoderm (VE) is required for forebrain development has been interpreted as support for the latter model. Here we argue that the chick hypoblast is equivalent to the mouse VE, based on fate, expression of molecular markers and characteristic anterior movements around the time of gastrulation. We show that the hypoblast does not fit the criteria for a head organizer because it does not induce neural tissue from naïve epiblast, nor can it change the regional identity of neural tissue. However, the hypoblast does induce transient expression of the early markers Sox3 and Otx2. The spreading of the hypoblast also directs cell movements in the adjacent epiblast, such that the prospective forebrain is kept at a distance from the organizer at the tip of the primitive streak. We propose that this movement is important to protect the forebrain from the caudalizing influence of the organizer. This dual role of the hypoblast is more consistent with the Nieuwkoop model than with the notion of separate organizers, and accommodates the available data from mouse and other vertebrates.

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