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

Integrin alpha 6 expression is required for early nervous system development in Xenopus laevis.

The integrin alpha 6 subunit pairs with both the beta 1 and beta 4 subunits to form a subfamily of laminin receptors. Here we report the cDNA cloning and primary sequence for the Xenopus homologue of the mammalian integrin alpha 6 subunit. We present data demonstrating the spatial and temporal expression of alpha 6 mRNA and protein during early development. Initially, alpha 6 transcripts are expressed in the dorsal ectoderm and future neural plate at the end of gastrulation. Later in development, alpha 6 mRNAs are expressed in a variety of neural derivatives, including the developing sensory placodes (otic and olfactory) and commissural neurons within the neural tube. Integrin alpha 6 is also expressed in the elongating pronephric duct as well as a subset of the rhombencephalic neural crest, which will form the Schwann cells lining several cranial nerves (VII, VIII and X). In vivo expression of an alpha 6 antisense transcript in the animal hemisphere leads to a reduction in alpha 6 protein expression, a loss of adhesion to laminin, and severe defects in normal development. In 35% of cases, reduced levels of alpha 6 expression result in embryos that complete gastrulation normally but arrest at neurulation prior to the formation of the neural plate. In an additional 22% of cases, embryos develop with severe axial defects, including complete loss of head or tail structures. In contrast, overexpression of the alpha 6 subunit by injection of full-length mRNA has no apparent effect on embryonic development. Co-injection of antisense and sense plasmid constructs results in a partial rescue of the antisense-generated phenotypes. These data indicate that the integrin alpha 6 subunit is critical for the early development of the nervous system in amphibians.[1]


  1. Integrin alpha 6 expression is required for early nervous system development in Xenopus laevis. Lallier, T.E., Whittaker, C.A., DeSimone, D.W. Development (1996) [Pubmed]
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