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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neuregulin induces the expression of mesodermal genes in the ectoderm of Xenopus laevis.

The primary patterning event in early vertebrate development is the formation of mesoderm and subsequent induction of the neural tube by the mesoderm. Some of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta family (Activin, Vg1) and the fibroblast growth factor ( FGF) family molecules have been implicated for their roles in mesoderm induction. Here we show first the evidence that neuregulin, an epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factor known for its role in neural and muscle differentiation, participates in mesoderm induction. Neuregulin could induce the ectopic expression of mesoderm specific gene Xbra in animal cap explants reared to the midgastrula stage, when animal caps dissected from late blastula were cultured with Neuregulin at a low concentration (10 ng/ml). In situ hybridization study showed that alpha-cardiac actin was expressed in animal caps that were treated with Neuregulin overnight. Skeletal and cardiac muscle specific genes such as MyoD family genes (myoD, MRF4, myf5) and SL1 as well as NCAM, a pan neural marker, were also ectopically expressed by treatment with Neuregulin. However, the expression of NCAM is presumed to be a secondary result of the initial mesoderm induction by Neuregulin. The temporal expression pattern of neuregulin during the early developmental stages was analyzed by RT-PCR in order to determine if neuregulin is expressed at the time of mesoderm induction. It has been found that the neuregulin transcript was already detected from the 16-cell stage (stage 5) and continued to be expressed till the tailbud stage (stage 25), the latest embryonic stage analyzed in this study. Considering that the mesoderm is induced at early blastula before the start of zygotic transcription, maternal neuregulin is expressed at the right time to participate in mesoderm induction. These data strongly suggest that neuregulin plays an important role in mesoderm induction.[1]


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