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Mech Dev. 1995 Jul;52(1):27-36.

The expression pattern of Xenopus Mox-2 implies a role in initial mesodermal differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-2175, USA.


We have isolated a Xenopus homolog of the murine Mox-2 gene. As is the case for the mouse homolog, mesoderm specific expression of Xenopus Mox-2 (X. Mox-2) expression begins during gastrulation. Using whole mount in situ hybridization, we show that X. Mox-2 is expressed in undifferentiated dorsal, lateral and ventral mesoderm in the posterior of neurula/tailbud embryos, with expression more anteriorly detected in the dermatomes. In the tailbud tadpole, X. Mox-2 is expressed in tissues of the tailbud itself that represent a site of continued gastrulation-like processes resulting in mesoderm formation. X. Mox-2 is not expressed in the marginal zone of blastula, nor in the dorsal lip of gastrula, nor midline tissues (i.e. prospective notochord). Treatments that affect mesodermal patterning during embryonic development, including LiCl and ultraviolet light, and injection of mRNAs encoding BMP-4, or dominant negative activin and FGF receptors, produce changes in X. Mox-2 expression consistent with the types of tissues affected by these manipulations. X. Mox-2 expression is induced more in animal caps treated with FGF than those treated with activin. Together with the fact that X. Mox-2 activation in animal caps requires protein synthesis, our data suggest that X. Mox-2 is involved in initial mesodermal differentiation, downstream of molecules affecting mesoderm induction and determination such as Brachyury and goosecoid, and upstream of factors controlling terminal differentiation such as MyoD and myf5. X. Mox-2, therefore, is another useful marker for understanding the formation of mesoderm in amphibian development.

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