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

A role for cytoplasmic determinants in mesoderm patterning: cell-autonomous activation of the goosecoid and Xwnt-8 genes along the dorsoventral axis of early Xenopus embryos.

Although an induction event is required for the formation of mesoderm in Xenopus embryos, it is not clear that this induction is wholly sufficient to give rise to a correctly patterned mesodermal layer. We have studied the expression of the two genes, goosecoid and Xwnt-8, in Xenopus gastrulae in which cell-cell communication, and therefore mesoderm induction, has been prevented by frequent cell dispersion. Although neither the early panmesodermal marker Xbra nor the muscle-specific alpha-actin gene were activated under these conditions, goosecoid and Xwnt-8 were activated in cells of dorsal and ventrolateral origin respectively, thus correctly reflecting their distribution during normal development. We also show that the spatial pattern of expression of these two genes along the animal-vegetal axis is similar in normal and in dissociated early gastrulae: goosecoid is mainly expressed in future mesoderm while the domain of expression of Xwnt-8 spans the mesoderm-endoderm boundary. These results show that, during the blastula and early gastrula stages, gene activation can be controlled cell-autonomously along both the animal-vegetal and dorsoventral embryo axes. This suggests that the inheritance of localised maternal cytoplasmic determinants is a key event for the patterning of mesoderm. We present a modified model of mesoderm formation in which the different mesoderm cell types are produced as a result of cooperation between induction-dependent and induction-independent immediate-early genes.[1]


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