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Mech Dev. 1997 Nov;68(1-2):45-57.

Cerberus-like is a secreted factor with neutralizing activity expressed in the anterior primitive endoderm of the mouse gastrula.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-1662, USA.


We report the isolation of mouse cerberus-like (cer-l), a gene encoding a novel secreted protein that is specifically expressed in the anterior visceral endoderm during early gastrulation. Expression in the primitive endoderm starts before the appearance of the primitive streak and lasts until the head-fold stage. In later stages, a second region of expression is found in newly formed somites. Mouse cer-l shares some sequence similarity with Xenopus cerberus (Xcer). In Xenopus assays cer-l, like Xcer, mRNA acts as a potent neuralizing factor that induces forebrain markers and endoderm, but is unable to induce ectopic head-like structures as Xcer does. In addition to cer-l, anterior visceral endoderm was found to express the transcription factors Lim1, goosecoid and HNF-3beta that are also present in trunk organizer cells. A model of how head and trunk development might be regulated is discussed. Given its neuralizing activity, the secreted protein Cer-l is a candidate for mediating inductive activities of anterior visceral endoderm.

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