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Dev Biol. 1994 Aug;164(2):484-501.

Heparitinase inhibition of mesoderm induction and gastrulation in Xenopus laevis embryos.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley 94720.


We have examined the involvement of proteoglycan molecules in the induction of mesodermal tissue in Xenopus laevis embryos. Blastocoelic injections of the enzyme heparitinase at early blastula stages lead to gastrulation defects and to failures in the development of anterior embryonic structures. The period of sensitivity of embryos to this treatment suggests a possible role for these molecules during mesoderm induction. We show that heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans are the predominant sulfated glycoconjugates synthesized in early Xenopus embryos and that HSPGs are degraded by blastocoelic injections of heparitinase. Further, bFGF induction of mesoderm in explants of Xenopus stage 8 embryonic animal cap tissue is blocked by heparitinase but not by Chondroitinase ABC, using three separate criteria of mesoderm induction. Since HSPGs present in blastula animal cap cells are digested by heparitinase under the culture conditions used in the mesoderm-induction assay, we suggest that cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans are required for basic fibroblast growth factor-mediated mesoderm induction.

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