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J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol January 15, 2008; 310 (1): 73-84.

Maternal control of pattern formation in Xenopus laevis.

White JA , Heasman J .

We review the essential role of maternal factors in pattern formation for Xenopus laevis, focusing on VegT, Vg1, and Wnt11. Results from loss of function experiments demonstrate a clear requirement for these genes in germ layer specification, dorsal-ventral axis formation, and convergence extension. We also discuss these genes in the broader context of metazoan development, exploring whether and how their functions in the X. laevis model organism may or may not be conserved in other species. Wnt11 signaling in particular provides a classic example where understanding context in development is crucial to understanding function. Genomic sequencing, gene expression, and functional screening data that are becoming available in more species are providing invaluable aid to decoding and modeling signaling pathways. More work is needed to develop a comprehensive catalog of the Wnt signaling, T-box, and TGF-beta genes in metazoans both near and far in evolutionary distance. We finally discuss some specific experimental and modeling efforts that will be needed to understand the behavior of these signaling networks in vivo so that we can interpret these critical pathways in an evolutionary framework.

PubMed ID: 17219372
Article link: J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol
Grant support: [+]
Genes referenced: gdf1 vegt wnt11

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