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Dev Biol. 2005 Jun 1;282(1):95-110.

FGF signal regulates gastrulation cell movements and morphology through its target NRH.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, 38 Nishigonaka, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan.


We used cDNA microarray analysis to screen for FGF target genes in Xenopus embryos treated with the FGFR1 inhibitor SU5402, and identified neurotrophin receptor homolog (NRH) as an FGF target. Causing gain of NRH function by NRH mRNA or loss of NRH function using a Morpholino antisense-oligonucleotide (Mo) led to gastrulation defects without affecting mesoderm differentiation. Depletion of NRH by the Mo perturbed the polarization of cells in the dorsal marginal zone (DMZ), thereby inhibiting the intercalation of the cells during convergent extension as well as the filopodia formation on DMZ cells. Deletion analysis showed that the carboxyl-terminal region of NRH, which includes the "death domain," was necessary and sufficient to rescue gastrulation defects and to induce the protrusive cell morphology. Furthermore, we found that the FGF signal was both capable of inducing filopodia in animal cap cells, where they do not normally form, and necessary for filopodia formation in DMZ cells. Finally, we demonstrated that FGF required NRH function to induce normal DMZ cell morphology. This study is the first to identify an in vivo role for FGF in the regulation of cell morphology, and we have linked this function to the control of gastrulation cell movements via NRH.

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