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Dev Biol. 2016 Aug 1;416(1):162-172. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.05.033. Epub 2016 Jun 2.

Redundant mechanisms are involved in suppression of default cell fates during embryonic mesenchyme and notochord induction in ascidians.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan.
Marine Genomics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, 1919-1 Tancha, Onna, Okinawa 904-0495, Japan.
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan. Electronic address:


During embryonic induction, the responding cells invoke an induced developmental program, whereas in the absence of an inducing signal, they assume a default uninduced cell fate. Suppression of the default fate during the inductive event is crucial for choice of the binary cell fate. In contrast to the mechanisms that promote an induced cell fate, those that suppress the default fate have been overlooked. Upon induction, intracellular signal transduction results in activation of genes encoding key transcription factors for induced tissue differentiation. It is elusive whether an induced key transcription factor has dual functions involving suppression of the default fates and promotion of the induced fate, or whether suppression of the default fate is independently regulated by other factors that are also downstream of the signaling cascade. We show that during ascidian embryonic induction, default fates were suppressed by multifold redundant mechanisms. The key transcription factor, Twist-related.a, which is required for mesenchyme differentiation, and another independent transcription factor, Lhx3, which is dispensable for mesenchyme differentiation, sequentially and redundantly suppress the default muscle fate in induced mesenchyme cells. Similarly in notochord induction, Brachyury, which is required for notochord differentiation, and other factors, Lhx3 and Mnx, are likely to suppress the default nerve cord fate redundantly. Lhx3 commonly suppresses the default fates in two kinds of induction. Mis-activation of the autonomously executed default program in induced cells is detrimental to choice of the binary cell fate. Multifold redundant mechanisms would be required for suppression of the default fate to be secure.


Ascidian; Default cell fate; Embryonic induction; FGF; Lhx3; Mesenchyme; Notochord

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