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Dev Biol. 1998 Nov 1;203(1):12-23.

The expression pattern of thyroid hormone response genes in the tadpole tail identifies multiple resorption programs.

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Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Baltimore, Maryland, 21210, USA.


Expression of genes up-regulated by thyroid hormone (TH) during amphibian tail resorption was localized by in situ hybridization. The constitutive thyroid hormone receptor (TRalpha) and its heterodimeric partners (RXRalpha and RXRbeta) are expressed ubiquitously in the resorbing tail. A group of early response genes, including those encoding transcription factors, are expressed at greatest levels within tissues whose cells attempt to grow and differentiate in the tail, but eventually succumb to the resorption program. The TH-inducible TR isoform, TRbeta, is expressed ubiquitously in the tail, but especially high in fibroblasts. Similarly, a group of delayed response genes including two proteolytic enzymes that appear to execute the tail resorption program, is expressed specifically in fibroblasts that line and surround the notochord and lie beneath the epidermal lamella (subepidermal fibroblasts). During active tail resorption these fibroblasts invade their neighboring epidermal and notochord lamellae as part of the resorption process. Expression analysis implicates the single layer of invasive subepidermal fibroblasts as crucial in tail resorption. Stromelysin-3 is up-regulated by TH with early kinetics, and is expressed most actively in fibroblasts within the tail fins. None of the proteases are expressed in the tadpole epidermis, which will be replaced entirely during metamorphosis. While very few TH response genes are expressed in tadpole muscle, many are activated in fibroblasts that surround muscle and could induce muscle cell death by proteolysis of the extracellular matrix. These distinct localization patterns suggest that the common fate of all cell types within the tail is the result of multiple genetic programs.

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