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Nature. 2000 Jul 6;406(6791):74-8.

Initiation of neural induction by FGF signalling before gastrulation.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


During neural induction, the 'organizer' of the vertebrate embryo instructs neighbouring ectodermal cells to become nervous system rather than epidermis. This process is generally thought to occur around the mid-gastrula stage of embryogenesis. Here we report the isolation of ERNI, an early response gene to signals from the organizer (Hensen's node). Using ERNI as a marker, we present evidence that neural induction begins before gastrulation--much earlier in development than previously thought. We show that the organizer and some of its precursor cells produce a fibroblast growth factor signal, which can initiate, and is required for, neural induction.

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