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Dev Growth Differ. 2003 Apr;45(2):121-8.

Nuclear localization of beta-catenin in vegetal pole cells during early embryogenesis of the starfish Asterina pectinifera.

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Ushimado Marine Laboratory, Okayama University, Ushimado, Okayama 701-4303, Japan.


Recently, beta-catenin has been reported to control the expression of morphogenetic genes through the Wnt signaling pathway in invertebrate embryogenesis. In this study, the distribution pattern of beta-catenin during starfish embryogenesis was investigated using immunohistochemistry. In 16-cell stage embryos, beta-catenin began to accumulate in some nuclei at the vegetal pole. During the early cleavage stage, the cells expressing nuclear beta-catenin increased in number in the vegetal pole region of the embryos, and the beta-catenin signal increased in intensity in each nucleus. At the blastula stage, signal for beta-catenin was also found in the cytoplasm of the cells with nuclear beta-catenin. At the vegetal plate stage, almost all vegetal plate cells expressed beta-catenin in both the nucleus and cytoplasm. When the embryos developed to early gastrulae, cells with nuclear beta-catenin were restricted to the archenteron tip, and the signal gradually faded in later stages. The localization and temporal change of beta-catenin expression suggests that beta-catenin has a pivotal role in archenteron formation in starfish embryos.

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