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EMBO J. 2003 Jul 1;22(13):3303-13.

A role for maternal beta-catenin in early mesoderm induction in Xenopus.

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Department of Cell Biology, Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.


Mesoderm formation results from an inducing process that requires maternal and zygotic FGF/MAPK and TGFbeta activities, while maternal activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway determines the anterior-dorsal axis. Here, we show a new role of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in mesoderm induction. We find that maternal beta-catenin signaling is not only active dorsally but also all around the equatorial region, coinciding with the prospective mesoderm. Maternal beta-catenin function is required both for expression of dorsal genes and for activation of MAPK and the mesodermal markers Xbra and eomesodermin. beta-catenin acts in a non- cell-autonomous manner upstream of zygotic FGF and nodal signals. The Wnt/beta-catenin activity in the equatorial region of the early embryo is the first example of a maternally provided mesoderm inducer restricted to the prospective mesoderm.

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