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Cell. 2003 Nov 26;115(5):603-13.

Churchill, a zinc finger transcriptional activator, regulates the transition between gastrulation and neurulation.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.


Gastrulation generates mesoderm and endoderm from embryonic epiblast; soon after, the neural plate is established within the epiblast-both events require FGF signaling. We describe a zinc finger transcriptional activator, Churchill (ChCh), which acts as a switch between different roles of FGF. FGF induces ChCh slowly; this activates Smad-interacting-protein-1 (Sip1), which blocks further induction of the mesoderm markers brachyury and Tbx6L by FGF. ChCh is first expressed as cells stop migrating through the primitive streak, and we show that it regulates cell ingression. We propose a simple mechanism by which FGF sensitizes cells to BMP signals. These results reveal that neural induction requires cessation of mesoderm formation at the midline in addition to the decision between epidermis and neural plate.

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