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Dev Biol. 1999 Dec 15;216(2):561-81.

FGF signaling and the anterior neural induction in Xenopus.

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Department of Biomolecular Engineering, National Institute of Bioscience and Human-Technology, Tsukuba, Japan.


We previously showed that FGF was capable of inducing Xenopus gastrula ectoderm cells in culture to express position-specific neural markers along the anteroposterior axis in a dose-dependent manner. However, conflicting results have been obtained concerning involvement of FGF signaling in the anterior neural induction in vivo using the same dominant-negative construct of Xenopus FGF receptor type-1 (delta XFGFR-1 or XFD). We explored this issue by employing a similar construct of receptor type-4a (XFGFR-4a) in addition, since expression of XFGFR-4a was seen to peak between gastrula and neurula stages, when the neural induction and patterning take place, whereas expression of XFGFR-1 had not a distinct peak during that period. Further, these two FGFRs are most distantly related in amino acid sequence in the Xenopus FGFR family. When we injected mRNA of a dominant-negative version of XFGFR-4a (delta XFGFR-4a) into eight animal pole blastomeres at 32-cell stage, anterior defects including loss of normal structure in telencephalon and eye regions became prominent as examined morphologically or by in situ hybridization. Overexpression of delta XFGFR-1 appeared far less effective than that of delta XFGFR-4a. Requirement of FGF signaling in ectoderm for anterior neural development was further confirmed in culture: when ectoderm cells that were overexpressing delta XFGFR-4a were cocultured with intact organizer cells from either early or late gastrula embryos, expression of anterior and posterior neural markers was inhibited, respectively. We also showed that autonomous neuralization of the anterior-type observed in ectoderm cells that were subjected to prolonged dissociation was strongly suppressed by delta XFGFR-4a, but not as much by delta XFGFR-1. It is thus indicated that FGF signaling in ectoderm, mainly through XFGFR-4, is required for the anterior neural induction by organizer. We may reconcile our data to the current "neural default model," which features the central roles of BMP4 signaling in ectoderm and BMP4 antagonists from organizer, simply postulating that the neural default pathway in ectoderm includes constitutive FGF signaling step.

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