Our aim is to clarify the molecular mechanisms of early vertebrate development. To pursue this, we have been analyzing Xenopus embryogenesis at the molecular levels by mainly focusing on the Spemann organizer, neural induction, pattern formation, morphogenetic movements, and so on. We have been examining the function of genes which are expressed in the organizer and neural plate, such as Xlim-1, Xror2, crescent, XHR1, and XMAN1. Our data have suggested (1) Xlim-1 has a pivotal role in the organizer by directly regulating the organizer genes goosecoid and cerberus, (2) Xror2 and Crescent regulate convergent extension movements of posterior tissues through Wnt signaling, (3) XHR1 functions as a prepattern gene for the formation of midbrain-hindbrain boundary, and (4) the inner nuclear protein MAN1 is involved in anterior neural tissue formation by sequestering BMP signaling. Thus, our findings contribute to understanding the molecular mechanisms and gene cascades underlying early embryogenesis.
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