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Development. 2002 Dec;129(24):5815-25.

Neural tube closure requires Dishevelled-dependent convergent extension of the midline.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, 401 Barker Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


In Xenopus, Dishevelled (Xdsh) signaling is required for both neural tube closure and neural convergent extension, but the connection between these two morphogenetic processes remains unclear. Indeed normal neurulation requires several different cell polarity decisions, any of which may require Xdsh signaling. In this paper we address two issues: (1) which aspects of normal neurulation require Xdsh function; and (2) what role convergent extension plays in the closure of the neural tube. We show that Xdsh signaling is not required for neural fold elevation, medial movement or fusion. Disruption of Xdsh signaling therefore provides a specific tool for uncoupling convergent extension from other processes of neurulation. Using disruption of Xdsh signaling, we demonstrate that convergent extension is crucial to tube closure. Targeted injection revealed that Xdsh function was required specifically in the midline for normal neural tube closure. We suggest that the inherent movement of the neural folds can accomplish only a finite amount of medial progress and that convergent extension of the midline is necessary to reduce the distance between the nascent neural folds, allowing them to meet and fuse. Similar results with Xenopus strabismus implicate the planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling cascade in neural convergent extension and tube closure. Together, these data demonstrate that PCP-mediated convergent extension movements are crucial to proper vertebrate neurulation.

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