Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 1999 Oct 21;9(20):1147-57.

A molecular pathway leading to endoderm formation in zebrafish.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Programs in Developmental Biology and Human Genetics, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0448, USA.



Several potentially important regulators of vertebrate endoderm development have been identified, including Activin-related growth factors and their receptors; transcriptional regulators encoded by the genes Mixer, Xsox17, and HNF3beta; zebrafish One-eyed pinhead (Oep), a member of the Cripto/FRL-1/Cryptic family of epidermal growth factor related proteins (EGF-CFC); and the product of the zebrafish locus casanova, which plays an essential cell-autonomous role in endoderm formation.


Using overexpression studies and the analysis of different zebrafish mutants, we have assembled a molecular pathway that leads to endoderm formation. We report that a zebrafish Sox17 homologue is expressed during gastrulation exclusively in the endoderm and that casanova mutants lack all sox17 expression. Overexpression of mixer induces ectopic sox17-expressing cells in wild-type embryos and promotes endoderm formation in oep mutants, but does not rescue sox17 expression or endoderm formation in casanova mutants. Overexpression of a constitutively active form of the type I transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) receptor TARAM-A also promotes sox17 expression in wild-type and oep mutant embryos, but not in casanova mutants. We also show that the Nodal-related molecules Cyclops and Squint and the transmembrane protein Oep are essential for normal mixer expression.


The data indicate that the following pathway leads to zebrafish endoderm formation: Cyclops and Squint activate receptors such as TARAM-A; Oep also appears to act upstream of such receptors; signals transduced by these receptors lead to the expression of mixer, Mixer then acts through casanova to promote the expression of sox17 and differentiation of the endoderm.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center