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Dev Biol. 2001 Dec 1;240(1):223-36.

otx2 expression in the ectoderm activates anterior neural determination and is required for Xenopus cement gland formation.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.


We previously showed that otx2 regulates Xenopus cement gland formation in the ectoderm. Here, we show that otx2 is sufficient to direct anterior neural gene expression, and that its activity is required for cement gland and anterior neural determination. otx2 activity at midgastrula activates anterior and prevents expression of posterior and ventral gene expression in whole embryos and ectodermal explants. These data suggest that part of the mechanism by which otx2 promotes anterior determination involves repression of posterior and ventral fates. A dominant negative otx2-engrailed repressor fusion protein (otx2-En) ablates endogenous cement gland formation, and inhibits expression of the mid/hindbrain boundary marker engrailed-2. Ectoderm expressing otx2-En is not able to respond to signals from the mesoderm to form cement gland, and is impaired in its ability to form anterior neural tissue. These results compliment analyses in otx2 mutant mice, indicating a role for otx2 in the ectoderm during anterior neural patterning.

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