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Curr Biol. 1998 Nov 5;8(22):1199-206.

The nieuwkoid gene characterizes and mediates a Nieuwkoop-center-like activity in the zebrafish.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, New Jersey 08544, USA. dkoos@molbio.princeton.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In amphibians, the Nieuwkoop center--a primary inducing region--has a central role in the induction of dorsal mesodermal cells to form the Spemann organizer. In teleosts, such as the zebrafish, Danio rerio, the functional equivalent of the amphibian Spemann organizer is the dorsal shield. Historically, a small region of the teleost yolk syncytial layer (YSL), an extraembryonic tissue that underlies the entire blastoderm, has been implicated in dorsal shield specification. Difficulties in transplanting discrete regions of the YSL and the previous lack of localized expression patterns unique to the YSL have, however, hindered efforts to prove definitively that the YSL possesses Nieuwkoop-center-like activities.

RESULTS:

Here, we describe the isolation and analysis of a new homeobox gene, called nieuwkoid, which is first expressed immediately following the mid-blastula transition on the dorsal side of the zebrafish pregastrula embryo. We found that, by the onset of gastrulation, nieuwkoid expression becomes localized to a restricted region of the YSL, directly underlying the future dorsal shield. Mis-expression of nieuwkoid in early zebrafish embryos was found to be sufficient for the induction of ectopic organizer regions and secondary axes. Mis-expression of nieuwkoid by cell transplantation or by direct injection into the YSL led to the non-autonomous induction of ectopic organizer gene expression.

CONCLUSIONS:

The dynamic and restricted expression of the nieuwkoid gene, combined with its potent dorsalizing activity, suggests that nieuwkoid is an important component in the regionalization of the gastrula organizer, possibly characterizing and mediating an organizer-inducing/Nieuwkoop-center-like activity.

PMID:
9811602
DOI:
10.1016/s0960-9822(07)00509-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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