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Dev Dyn. 2004 Apr;229(4):713-21.

PI3K inhibitors block skeletogenesis but not patterning in sea urchin embryos.

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  • 1DCMB Group, Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.


Skeletogenesis in the sea urchin embryo is a simple model of biomineralization, pattern formation, and cell-cell communication during embryonic development. The calcium carbonate skeletal spicules are secreted by primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs), but the skeletal pattern is dictated by the embryonic ectoderm. Although the process of skeletogenesis is well characterized, there is little molecular understanding of the basis of patterning within this system. In this study, we examined the contribution of phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-mediated signaling to the skeletogenic process in sea urchin embryos by using the well-established PI3K inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin. Our results show that PI3K inhibitors specifically and reversibly block skeletogenesis, and that this blockade occurs within the PMCs rather than in the ectoderm, because the inhibitors block spiculogenesis in cultured micromeres. Our results are consistent with a model in which PI3K signaling is required, not for pattern sensing or interpretation but rather for the biomineralization process itself in the sea urchin embryo.

Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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