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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci March 12, 1990; 327 (1239): 75-84.

Mesoderm induction by fibroblast growth factor in early Xenopus development.

In early amphibian development the mesoderm is formed around the equator of the blastula in response to inductive signals from the endoderm. At the time of its formation the mesoderm consists of a large ''ventral type'' zone and a small ''organizer'' zone. A screen of candidate substances showed that a small group of heparin binding growth factors (HBGFs) were active as mesoderm inducing agents in vitro. The fibroblast growth factors (aFGF and bFGF) and embryonal carcinoma derived growth factor (ECDGF) all show similar potency and can produce ventral inductions at concentrations above about 100 pm. Single blastula ectoderm cells can be induced and will differentiate in a defined medium to form mesodermal tissues and all inner blastula cells are competent to respond to the factors. Inducing activity can be extracted from Xenopus blastulae and can be purified by heparin affinity chromatography. Antibody neutralization and Western blotting experiments identify this activity as bFGF. The amounts present are small but would be sufficient to evoke ventral inductions in vivo. It is not yet known whether the bFGF is localized to the endoderm, although it is known that inducing activity secreted by endodermal cells can be neutralized by heparin. The competence of ectoderm to respond to FGF rises from about the 128-cell-stage and falls again by the onset of gastrulation. This change is paralleled by a rise and fall of binding of 125I-labelled aFGF. Chemical cross-linking reveals that this binding is attributable to a receptor of molecular mass about 130 kilodaltons (kDa). The receptor is present both in the marginal zone, which responds to the signal in vivo, and in the animal pole region, which is not induced in vivo but which will respond to HBGFs in vitro. In intact embryos we believe that the ventral type mesoderm forms the somites, kidney and other intermediate structures as well as the blood islands of the ventral midline. These intermediate structures are induced as a function of distance from the organizer in a process called ''dorsalization''. Lithium salts have a dorsalizing effect on whole embryos and also on explants from the ventral marginal zone, causing them to form large blocks of muscle. Lithium will also cause large muscle blocks to form when applied to ectoderm explants together with FGF. It is difficult to extend these results directly to mammalian embryos, but we have shown that the products of the murine int-2 gene and of the human k-fgf genes are active as mesoderm inducing factors.

PubMed ID: 1969663
Article link: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Genes referenced: fgf1 fgf2 fgf3

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