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Mech Dev. 2002 Sep;117(1-2):173-86.

XPOX2-peroxidase expression and the XLURP-1 promoter reveal the site of embryonic myeloid cell development in Xenopus.

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  • 1Division of Developmental Biology, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK.


Phagocytic myeloid cells provide the principle line of immune defence during early embryogenesis in lower vertebrates. They may also have important functions during normal embryo morphogenesis, not least through the phagocytic clearance of cell corpses arising from apoptosis. We have identified two cDNAs that provide sensitive molecular markers of embryonic leukocytes in the early Xenopus embryo. These encode a peroxidase (XPOX2) and a Ly-6/uPAR-related protein (XLURP-1). We show that myeloid progenitors can first be detected at an antero-ventral site in early tailbud stage embryos (a region previously termed the anterior ventral blood island) and transiently express the haematopoetic transcription factors SCL and AML. Phagocytes migrate from this site along consistent routes and proliferate, becoming widely distributed throughout the tadpole long before the circulatory system is established. This migration can be followed in living embryos using a 5 kb portion of the XLURP-1 promoter to drive expression of EGFP specifically in the myeloid cells. Interestingly, whilst much of this migration occurs by movement of individual cells between embryonic germ layers, the rostral-most myeloid cells apparently migrate in an anterior direction along the ventral midline within the mesodermal layer itself. The transient presence of such cells as a strip bisecting the cardiac mesoderm immediately prior to heart tube formation suggests that embryonic myeloid cells may play a role in early cardiac morphogenesis.

Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

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