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Dev Biol. 1994 Aug;164(2):513-27.

Experimental control of axial pattern in the chick blastoderm by local expression of Wnt and activin: the role of HNK-1 positive cells.

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National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, United Kingdom.


Small grafts from transfected mammalian cell lines that secrete activin or express Wnt-1 RNA were made to the marginal zone of entire chick blastoderms in culture. Grafts from appropriate control cell lines produced no effects on development. The activin-secreting grafts, implanted before streak formation, could cause the streak to form opposite their marginal position even when this was 180 degrees distant around the blastoderm from the original presumptive streak site. Alternatively, opposed twin streaks were observed, one at the original presumptive site and one in relation to the graft. Wnt-expressing grafts implanted early could also reposition axis formation, but only to graft sites within approximately 100 degrees of angular distance from the host's presumptive streak origin. No Wnt-induced twinning was observed. Grafts of both experimental cell types intermixed were the most effective in reorientating, twinning, or globally disturbing the axial pattern and led to second axes with the least delay, relative to normal development, in reaching headfold stages. The incidence and distribution of cells positive for the epitope HNK-1 was investigated during early stages of normal and of experimentally twinned development. Only two nonhypoblast regions of HNK-1 expression were consistently observed in normal early development; a sector in the germ wall area opaca, behind the site of streak formation, and then a localised region of intensely, newly expressing cells arising in epiblast and in anteriormost parts of the (epiblast-derived) streak at the half-length streak stage. Both "activin only" and "activin/Wnt" mixed grafts, although not control grafts, became surrounded by new sectors of "germ wall" HNK-1 positivity. Such positivity may therefore mark a cell group with a signaling role (but no anatomical participation) in streak initiation. However, there was no change of the local background incidence of epiblastic HNK-1 positivity in the structure of streaks induced by "activin only" grafts. This indicates that most cells of the streak are specified by relatively local induction, rather than deriving from selective aggregation. Only grafts including the Wnt-expressing cells gave rise to obvious new HNK-1 expression within epiblast-derived cells anteriorly, as does the complete normal streak. This suggests that the Wnt class of response pathway can complement the activin one in producing rostrocaudally complete axial pattern, as has been suggested for amphibian development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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