Refinement of gene expression patterns in the early Xenopus embryo

Fiona C Wardle, James C Smith

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44 Citations (Scopus)


During blastula and gastrula stages of Xenopus development, cells become progressively and asynchronously committed to a particular germ layer. We have analysed the expression of genes normally expressed in ectoderm, mesoderm or endoderm in individual cells from early and late gastrula embryos, by both in situ hybridization and single-cell RT-PCR. We show that at early gastrula stages, individual cells in the same region may express markers of two or more germ layers, and 'rogue' cells that express a marker outside its canonical domain are also observed at these stages. However, by the late gastrula stage, individual cells express markers that are more characteristic of theirposition in the embryo, and 'rogue' cells are seen less frequently. These observations exemplify at the gene expression level the observation that cells of the early gastrula are less committed to one germ layer than are cells of the late gastrula embryo. Ectodermal cells induced to form mesendoderm by the addition of Activin respond by activating expression of different mesodermal and endodermal markers in the same cell, recapitulating the response of marginal zone cells in the embryo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4687 - 4696
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge): for advances in developmental biology and stem cells
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


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