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Int J Dev Biol. 1997 Oct;41(5):715-23.

Targeted over-expression of FGF in chick embryos induces formation of ectopic neural cells.

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Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas y Biología Celular y Animal, Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain.


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are known to be involved mainly in mesoderm formation in Xenopus embryos but their participation in other inductive mechanisms such as neural induction has not been clearly established and is now under study. Here, we provide evidence that targeted over-expression of members of this family of growth factors in the periphery of full-length primitive streak chick embryos produces the formation of ectopic neural cells that are able to differentiate into neurons. The supernumerary neural plate obtained derives from the epiblast layer of the blastoderm and show signs of neural differentiation 24 h after the application of FGF. We have used cell labeling and have examined the expression of mesodermal markers to ascertain how this expansion of the neural forming region of the epiblast takes place. We conclude that the new neural cells formed are originated in the region of the epiblast fated to be epithelia and that the induction of the ectopic neural tissue is not mediated by an increase, migration or new formation of axial mesoderm. This strongly suggests that FGF is acting directly on epiblast cells, changing their fate from epidermal ectoderm to neural ectoderm. Therefore, our results show that FGF can induce neural ectoderm when acting on still uncommitted cells and, therefore, it is a putative candidate for acting in normal neural induction during development.

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