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Development. 1997 Sep;124(17):3363-74.

Identification and localization of a sea urchin Notch homologue: insights into vegetal plate regionalization and Notch receptor regulation.

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  • 1Developmental, Cell and Molecular Biology Group, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


The specifications of cell types and germ-layers that arise from the vegetal plate of the sea urchin embryo are thought to be regulated by cell-cell interactions, the molecular basis of which are unknown. The Notch intercellular signaling pathway mediates the specification of numerous cell fates in both invertebrate and vertebrate development. To gain insights into mechanisms underlying the diversification of vegetal plate cell types, we have identified and made antibodies to a sea urchin homolog of Notch (LvNotch). We show that in the early blastula embryo, LvNotch is absent from the vegetal pole and concentrated in basolateral membranes of cells in the animal half of the embryo. However, in the mesenchyme blastula embryo LvNotch shifts strikingly in subcellular localization into a ring of cells which surround the central vegetal plate. This ring of LvNotch delineates a boundary between the presumptive secondary mesoderm and presumptive endoderm, and has an asymmetric bias towards the dorsal side of the vegetal plate. Experimental perturbations and quantitative analysis of LvNotch expression demonstrate that the mesenchyme blastula vegetal plate contains both animal/vegetal and dorsoventral molecular organization even before this territory invaginates to form the archenteron. Furthermore, these experiments suggest roles for the Notch pathway in secondary mesoderm and endoderm lineage segregation, and in the establishment of dorsoventral polarity in the endoderm. Finally, the specific and differential subcellular expression of LvNotch in apical and basolateral membrane domains provides compelling evidence that changes in membrane domain localization of LvNotch are an important aspect of Notch receptor function.

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