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Dev Biol. 1997 Sep 15;189(2):256-69.

Epithelial cell wedging and neural trough formation are induced planarly in Xenopus, without persistent vertical interactions with mesoderm.

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


In this study we investigate the induction of the cell behaviors underlying neurulation in the frog, Xenopus laevis. Although planar signals from the organizer can induce convergent extension movements of the posterior neural tissue in explants, the remaining morphogenic processes of neurulation do not appear to occur in absence of vertical interactions with the organizer (R. Keller et al. , 1992, Dev. Dyn. 193, 218-234). These processes include: (1) cell elongation perpendicular to the plane of the epithelium, forming the neural plate; (2) cell wedging, which rolls the neural plate into a trough; (3) intercalation of two layers of neural plate cells to form one layer; and (4) fusion of the neural folds. To allow planar signaling between all the inducing tissues of the involuting marginal zone and the responding prospective ectoderm, we have designed a "giant sandwich" explant. In these explants, cell elongation and wedging are induced in the superficial neural layer by planar signals without persistent vertical interactions with underlying, involuted mesoderm. A neural trough forms, and neural folds form and approach one another. However, the neural folds do not fuse with one another, and the deep cells of these explants do not undergo their normal behaviors of elongation, wedging, and intercalation between the superficial neural cells, even when planar signals are supplemented with vertical signaling until the late midgastrula (stage 11.5). Vertical interactions with mesoderm during and beyond the late gastrula stage were required for expression of these deep cell behaviors and for neural fold fusion. These explants offer a way to regulate deep and superficial cell behaviors and thus make possible the analysis of the relative roles of these behaviors in closing the neural tube.

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