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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Sep 15;89(18):8736-40.

Evidence that the deep keratin filament systems of the Xenopus embryo act to ensure normal gastrulation.

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University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347.


To study the role of keratin filaments in Xenopus development, fertilized eggs were injected with anti-keratin monoclonal antibodies. The anti-keratin monoclonal antibodies AE1 and AE3 induce abnormal gastrulation; in the most severely affected embryos gastrulation fails completely. In contrast, embryos injected with the anti-keratin antibody 1h5 develop normally. Immunocytochemical data indicate that injected 1h5 binds to the dense superficial keratin filament system of the embryo but not to the deeper keratin filament networks of ectodermal and subectodermal cells. Injected AE1 and AE3 do not bind to the superficial keratin system but appear to interact preferentially with the deep keratin filament systems of the embryo. We conclude that the superficial keratin filament system is not involved in the process of gastrulation per se but may protect the embryo from mechanical damage. On the other hand, our results suggest that the integrity of the deeper keratin filament systems is required for the mechanical integration of the morphogenetic movements that underlie gastrulation in Xenopus.

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