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Genes Dev. 1999 Jul 15;13(14):1834-46.

Targeted disruption of Fgf8 causes failure of cell migration in the gastrulating mouse embryo.

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Department of Anatomy and Program in Developmental Biology, School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0452 USA.


Fgf8 and Fgf4 encode FGF family members that are coexpressed in the primitive streak of the gastrulating mouse embryo. We have analyzed the phenotype of Fgf8(-/-) embryos and discovered that they fail to express Fgf4 in the streak. In the absence of both FGF8 and FGF4, epiblast cells move into the streak and undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, but most cells then fail to move away from the streak. As a consequence, no embryonic mesoderm- or endoderm-derived tissues develop, although extraembryonic tissues form. Patterning of the prospective neuroectoderm is greatly perturbed in the mutant embryos. Anterior neuroectoderm markers are widely expressed, at least in part because the anterior visceral endoderm, which provides signals that regulate their expression, is not displaced proximally in the absence of definitive endoderm. Posterior neuroectoderm markers are not expressed, presumably because there is neither mesendoderm underlying the prospective neuroectoderm nor a morphologically normal node to provide the inductive signals necessary for their expression. This study identifies Fgf8 as a gene essential for gastrulation and shows that signaling via FGF8 and/or FGF4 is required for cell migration away from the primitive streak.

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