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Dev Biol. 2005 Dec 15;288(2):363-71. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

Primitive streak formation in mice is preceded by localized activation of Brachyury and Wnt3.

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Department of Genetics, Campus Box 7264, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7264, USA.


The prevalent model for the generation of axial polarity in mouse embryos proposes that a radial to a linear transition in the expression of primitive streak markers precedes the formation of the primitive streak on one side of the epiblast. This model contrasts with the models of mesoderm formation in other vertebrates as it suggests that the primitive streak is initially established in a radial pattern rather than a localized region of the epiblast. Here, we examine the proposed correlation between the expression of Brachyury and Wnt3, two genes reported as expressed radially in the proximal epiblast, with the movements of proximal anterior epiblast cells at stages leading to the formation of the primitive streak. Our results reveal that neither Brachyury nor Wnt3 forms a ring of expression in the proximal epiblast as previously thought. In embryos dissected between 5.5 and 6.5 dpc, Brachyury is first expressed in the distal extra-embryonic ectoderm and subsequently on one side of the epiblast. Wnt3 expression is evident first in the posterior visceral endoderm of 5.5 dpc embryos and later in the posterior epiblast. Lineage analysis shows that the movements of the proximal epiblast do not restrict Brachyury expression to the posterior epiblast. Our data suggest a model whereby the localized expression of these genes in the posterior epiblast, and hence the formation of the primitive streak, is the result of local cell-cell interactions in the future posterior portion of the egg cylinder rather than regionalization of a radial pattern of expression in proximal epiblast cells.

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