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Development. 1995 Nov;121(11):3627-36.

Fibroblast growth factor is a direct neural inducer, which combined with noggin generates anterior-posterior neural pattern.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


Neural tissue in developing Xenopus embryos is induced by signals from the dorsal mesoderm. Induction of anterior neural tissue could be mediated by noggin, a secreted polypeptide found in dorsal mesoderm. We show that bFGF, a known mesoderm inducer of blastula staged ectoderm, induces neural tissue from gastrula stage ectoderm. The type of neural tissue induced by bFGF from stage 10.25 ectoderm is posterior, as marked by Hox B9 expression. When bFGF and noggin are combined on early gastrula stage ectoderm, a more complete neural pattern is generated and no mesodermal tissue is detected. Explants treated with noggin and bFGF elongate and display distinct anterior and posterior ends marked by otx2 and Hox B9 expression, respectively. Furthermore, treatment of early gastrula ectoderm with noggin and bFGF results in the induction of En-2, a marker of the midbrain-hindbrain junction and Krox 20, a marker of the third and fifth rhombomeres of the hindbrain. Neither of these genes is induced by noggin alone or bFGF alone at this stage, suggesting a synergy in anterior-posterior neural patterning. The response of later gastrula (stage 11-12) ectoderm to bFGF changes so that Krox 20 and En-2 are induced by bFGF alone, while induction of more posterior tissue marked by Hox B9 is eliminated. The dose of bFGF affects the amount of neural tissue induced, but has little effect on the anterior-posterior character, rather the age of the ectoderm treated is the determinant of the response. Thus, an FGF signal may account for posterior neural induction, and anterior-posterior neural patterning could be partly explained by the actions of noggin and FGF, together with the changing response of the ectoderm to these factors.

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