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Development December 1, 1999; 126 (23): 5339-51.

Involvement of the small GTPases XRhoA and XRnd1 in cell adhesion and head formation in early Xenopus development.

Wünnenberg-Stapleton K , Blitz IL , Hashimoto C , Cho KW .

The Rho family of small GTPases regulates a variety of cellular functions, including the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, transcription, cell growth and membrane trafficking. We have isolated the first Xenopus homologs of the Rho-like GTPases RhoA and Rnd1 and examined their potential roles in early Xenopus development. We found that Xenopus Rnd1 (XRnd1) is expressed in tissues undergoing extensive morphogenetic changes, such as marginal zone cells involuting through the blastopore, somitogenic mesoderm during somite formation and neural crest cells. XRnd1 also causes a severe loss of cell adhesion in overexpression experiments. These data and the expression pattern suggest that XRnd1 regulates morphogenetic movements by modulating cell adhesion in early embryos. Xenopus RhoA (XRhoA) is a potential XRnd1 antagonist, since overexpression of XRhoA increases cell adhesion in the embryo and reverses the disruption of cell adhesion caused by XRnd1. In addition to the potential roles of XRnd1 and XRhoA in the regulation of cell adhesion, we find a role for XRhoA in axis formation. When coinjected with dominant-negative BMP receptor (tBR) in the ventral side of the embryo, XRhoA causes the formation of head structures resembling the phenotype seen after coinjection of wnt inhibitors with dominant-negative BMP receptor. Since dominant-negative XRhoA is able to reduce the formation of head structures, we propose that XRhoA activity is essential for head formation. Thus, XRhoA may have a dual role in the embryo by regulating cell adhesion properties and pattern formation.

PubMed ID: 10556059
Article link: Development
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: actl6a cer1 rho.2 rhoa rnd1

Article Images: [+] show captions