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Dev Biol. 2004 Nov 15;275(2):356-74.

BMP antagonism by Spemann's organizer regulates rostral-caudal fate of mesoderm.

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  • 1Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, WI 53706, USA. mclane@factstaff.wisc.edu


Recent revisions to the Xenopus fate map challenge the interpretation of previous maps and current models of amphibian axial patterning (Lane, M.C., Smith, W.C., 1999. The origins of primitive blood in Xenopus: implications for axial patterning. Development 126 (3), 423-434.; Lane, M.C., Sheets, M.D., 2000. Designation of the anterior/posterior axis in pregastrula Xenopus laevis. Dev. Biol. 225, 37-58). We determined the rostralmost contributions to both dorsal and ventral mesoderm concomitantly from marginal zone progenitors in stage 6 embryos. Data reveal an unequivocal rostral-to-caudal progression of both dorsal and ventral mesoderm across the pre-gastrula axis historically called the dorsal-ventral axis, and a dorsal-to-ventral progression from animal-to-vegetal in the marginal zone. These findings support the proposed revisions to the fate and axis orientation maps. Most importantly, these results raise questions about the role of the organizer grafts and organizer-derived BMP antagonists in the "induction" of secondary axes. We re-examine both phenomena, and find that organizer grafts and BMP antagonists evoke caudal-to-rostral mesodermal fate transformations, and not ventral-to-dorsal transformations as currently believed. We demonstrate that BMP antagonism evokes a second axis because it stimulates precocious mediolateral intercalation of caudal, dorsal mesoderm. The implications of these findings for models of organizer function in vertebrate axial patterning are discussed.

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