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Development July 1, 1995; 121 (7): 2177-86.

Xwnt-8b: a maternally expressed Xenopus Wnt gene with a potential role in establishing the dorsoventral axis.

Cui Y , Brown JD , Moon RT , Christian JL .

In amphibian embryos, establishment of dorsal-ventral asymmetry is believed to involve dorsal-ventral differences in vegetally derived mesoderm-inducing signals and/or differences in the competence of animal hemisphere (ectodermal) cells to respond to these signals. Previous studies have shown that certain Wnt proteins can generate an ectopic dorsal axis when misexpressed, and that they do so by modifying the response of ectodermal cells to inducers. None of these Wnt proteins are expressed at an appropriate time to do so in vivo. In this study, we describe the isolation and characterization of a full length cDNA for the Xenopus Wnt gene, Xwnt-8b, whose biological activity and expression pattern suggest that it may be involved in establishment of the dorsoventral axis. Both maternal and zygotic Xwnt-8b transcripts undergo alternative splicing to generate mRNAs which encode two different forms of Xwnt-8b protein. During early cleavage stages Xwnt-8b transcripts are confined primarily to animal hemisphere blastomeres, while zygotically derived Xwnt-8b transcripts are restricted almost exclusively to a band of cells in the prospective forebrain of neurula and tailbud stage embryos. Ectopically expressed Xwnt-8b can completely rescue dorsal development of embryos ventralized by exposure to ultraviolet light, and can induce a complete secondary axis in wild-type embryos. Axis induction is observed only if Xwnt-8b is supplied prior to the onset of zygotic gene transcription. This biological activity, together with the presence of maternal Xwnt-8b transcripts in cells that will be induced to form the dorsal mesoderm, is consistent with the possibility that Xwnt-8b may be the endogenous agent that establishes asymmetry in the response of ectodermal cells to mesoderm-inducing signals, thereby initiating dorsal development.

PubMed ID: 7635061
Article link: Development
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: gdf1 h4c4 wnt11b wnt8a wnt8b

Article Images: [+] show captions