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Curr Biol. 2000 Nov 30;10(23):1511-4.

FGF-8 stimulates neuronal differentiation through FGFR-4a and interferes with mesoderm induction in Xenopus embryos.

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Wellcome/CRC Institute, CB2 1QR,., Cambridge, UK.


The role of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) in neural induction is controversial [1,2]. Although FGF signalling has been implicated in early neural induction [3-5], a late role for FGFs in neural development is not well established. Indeed, it is thought that FGFs induce a precursor cell fate but are not able to induce neuronal differentiation or late neural markers [6-8]. It is also not known whether the same or distinct FGFs and FGF receptors (FGFRs) mediate the effects on mesoderm and neural development. We report that Xenopus embryos expressing ectopic FGF-8 develop an abundance of ectopic neurons that extend to the ventral, non-neural, ectoderm, but show no ectopic or enhanced notochord or somitic markers. FGF-8 inhibited the expression of an early mesoderm marker, Xbra, in contrast to eFGF, which induced ectopic Xbra robustly and neuronal differentiation weakly. The effect of FGF-8 on neurogenesis was blocked by dominant-negative FGFR-4a (DeltaXFGFR-4a). Endogenous neurogenesis was also blocked by DeltaXFGFR-4a and less efficiently by dominant-negative FGFR-1 (XFD), suggesting that it depends preferentially on signalling through FGFR-4a. The results suggest that FGF-8 and FGFR-4a signalling promotes neurogenesis and, unlike other FGFs, FGF-8 interferes with mesoderm induction. Thus, different FGFs show specificity for mesoderm induction versus neurogenesis and this may be mediated, at least in part, by the use of distinct receptors.

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