XB-ART-43913Dev Biol July 15, 2007; 307 (2): 282-9.
Research on the mechanisms of embryonic induction had a great setback in the 1940s when Barth discovered and Holtfreter confirmed that ectoderm of Ambystoma maculatum salamander embryos could form brain tissue when cultured in a simple saline solution. We have revisited this classical experiment and found that when cultured animal cap ectoderm attaches to a glass substratum, it can self-organize to form complex organs such as brain vesicles, eyes, lens and olfactory placodes. Only anterior neural organs were generated. Under these culture conditions ERK became diphosphorylated, indicating a sustained activation of the Ras/MAPK pathway. Using sand particles as an example of a heterologous neural inducer similar results were obtained. Addition of U0126, a specific antagonist of MEK, the enzyme that phosphorylates ERK/MAPK, inhibited neural differentiation. The closely related control compound U0124 had no effect. We conclude that neural induction in the absence of organizer in A. maculatum requires Ras/MAPK-activation. These findings provide a molecular explanation for the activity of heterologous neural inducers that dominated thinking in amphibian experimental embryology for many decades.
PubMed ID: 17540356
PMC ID: PMC2096472
Article link: Dev Biol
Genes referenced: mapk1