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Dev Biol. 2001 Nov 15;239(2):270-80.

Hypaxial muscle migration during primary myogenesis in Xenopus laevis.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3202, USA.


In contrast to many vertebrates, the ventral body wall muscles and limb muscles of Xenopus develop at different times. The ventral body wall forms in the tadpole, while limb (appendicular) muscles form during metamorphosis to the adult frog. In organisms that have been examined thus far, a conserved mechanism has been shown to control migratory muscle precursor specification, migration, and differentiation. Here, we show that the process of ventral body wall formation in Xenopus laevis is similar to hypaxial muscle development in chickens and mice. Cells specified for the migratory lineage display an upregulation of pax3 in the ventro-lateral region of the somite. These pax3-positive cells migrate ventrally, away from the somite, and undergo terminal differentiation with the expression of myf-5, followed by myoD. Several other genes are selectively expressed in the migrating muscle precursor population, including neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), Xenopus kit related kinase (Xkrk1), and Xenopus SRY box 5 (sox5). We have also found that muscle precursor migration is highly coordinated with the migration of neural crest-derived melanophores. However, by extirpating neural crest at an early stage and allowing embryos to develop, we determined that muscle precursor migration is not dependent on physical or genetic interaction with melanophores.

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