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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2007 Aug;18(4):525-33. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Positioning the extreme anterior in Xenopus: cement gland, primary mouth and anterior pituitary.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142, United States.


The extreme anterior of the deuterostome embryo is unusual in that ectoderm and endoderm are directly juxtaposed, without intervening mesoderm. In all vertebrates, this region gives rise to the anterior pituitary, the primary mouth and, in most frogs, to the mucus-secreting cement gland. Using the frog Xenopus laevis as a paradigm, we suggest that, initially, the extreme anterior forms a homogenous domain characterized by expression of pitx genes. Subsequently, this domain becomes subdivided to form these three different structures under the influence of different inductive signals from surrounding tissues.

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