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Genesis. 2001 Aug;30(4):264-73.

Activation of epiblast gene expression by the hypoblast layer in the prestreak chick embryo.

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Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Axis formation is a highly regulated process in vertebrate embryos. In mammals, inductive interactions between an extra-embryonic layer, the visceral endoderm, and the embryonic layer before gastrulation are critical both for anterior neural patterning and normal primitive streak formation. The role(s) of the equivalent extra-embryonic endodermal layer in the chick, the hypoblast, is still less clear, and dramatic effects of hypoblast on embryonic gene expression have yet to be demonstrated. We present evidence that two genes later associated with the gastrula organizer (Gnot-1 and Gnot-2) are induced by hypoblast signals in prestreak embryos. The significance of this induction by hypoblast is discussed in terms of possible hypoblast functions and the regulation of axis formation in the early embryo. Several factors known to be expressed in hypoblast, and retinoic acid, synergistically induce Gnot-1 and Gnot-2 expression in blastoderm cell culture. The presence of retinoic acid in prestreak embryos has not yet been directly demonstrated, but exogenous retinoic acid appears to mimic the effects of hypoblast rotation on primitive streak extension, raising the possibility that retinoid signaling plays some role in the pregastrula embryo.

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