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Int J Dev Biol. 2010;54(8-9):1375-82. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.103080cf.

Vestigial like gene family expression in Xenopus: common and divergent features with other vertebrates.

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UMR CNRS 5164, Université Bordeaux 2, 146 rue Léo Saignat, Bordeaux, France.


The Drosophila Vestigial and Scalloped proteins form heterodimers that control wing development and are involved in muscle differentiation. Four vestigial like genes have been described in mammals. Similar to the Drosophila vestigial gene, they encode a short conserved domain (TONDU) required for interaction with the mammalian paralogues of Drosophila Scalloped (i.e., TEAD proteins). We previously identified two TEAD genes in Xenopus laevis and we report here the expression of four distinct vestigial like genes in Xenopus (vgll1-4) that represent amphibian orthologs of the mammalian vestigial like genes. Vgll1 has a unique expression pattern which is restricted to epidermal cells, both in the embryo and in the adult. Vgll2 is expressed in the skeletal muscle lineage downstream of myogenic factors and in the embryonic brain similar to the avian and mammalian orthologues. Vgll3 expression is transient, identifies embryonic hindbrain rhombomere 2, and is negatively regulated by en2, but not by egr2. Vgll4 is mainly expressed in anterior neural structures. In summary, the four Xenopus vgll genes have unique/complex expression profiles and they are differently expressed during embryogenesis. Moreover, these amphibian vestigial like genes display distinct responses to the major signaling pathways (i.e., activin, FGF or BMP) that orchestrate pattern-formation during early development.

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