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Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 12;8(1):4335. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22619-9.

Time-lapse observation of stepwise regression of Erk activity in zebrafish presomitic mesoderm.

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Gene Regulation Research, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5 Takayama, Nara, 630-0101, Japan.
Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Flora, Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta, 55281, Indonesia.
Laboratory of Theoretical Biology, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Yoshidakonoecho, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8315, Japan.
Gene Regulation Research, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5 Takayama, Nara, 630-0101, Japan.


During somite segmentation, clock genes oscillate within the posterior presomitic mesoderm (PSM). The temporal information ties up with the posteriorly moving FGF gradient, leading to the formation of a presumptive somite within the PSM. We previously investigated Erk activity downstream of FGF signaling by collecting stained zebrafish embryos, and discovered that the steep gradient of Erk activity was generated in the PSM, and the Erk activity border regularly shifted in a stepwise manner. However, since these interpretations come from static analyses, we needed to firmly confirm them by applying an analysis that has higher spatiotemporal resolutions. Here we developed a live imaging system for Erk activity in zebrafish embryos, using a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based Erk biosensor. With this system, we firmly showed that Erk activity exhibits stepwise regression within the PSM. Although our static analyses could not detect the stepwise pattern of Erk activity in clock-deficient embryos, our system revealed that, in clock-deficient embryos, the stepwise regression of Erk activity occurs at an irregular timing, eventually leading to formation of irregularly-sized somites. Therefore, our system overcame the limitation of static analyses and revealed that clock-dependent spatiotemporal regulation of Erk is required for proper somitogenesis in zebrafish.

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