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Biol Open May 15, 2012; 1 (5): 473-81.

Connexin26-mediated transfer of laterality cues in Xenopus.

A cilia-driven leftward flow of extracellular fluid breaks bilateral symmetry in the dorsal midline of the neurula stage vertebrate embryo. The left-specific Nodal signaling cascade in the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM) is key to asymmetric morphogenesis and placement of organs during subsequent development. The nature of the initial asymmetric cue(s) as well as the transfer of information from the midline to the left side has remained elusive. Gap junctional communication has been previously involved in Xenopus left-right (LR) development, however a function at cleavage stages was inferred from inhibitor experiments. Here we show by heptanol-mediated block of connexin function that flow stages during neurulation represent the critical time window. Flow in Xenopus occurs at the gastrocoel roof plate (GRP), a ciliated sheath of cells of mesodermal fate transiently positioned within the dorsal epithelial lining of the forming archenteron. We reasoned that endodermal cells immediately adjacent to the GRP are important for transfer of asymmetry. A systematic screen identified two connexin genes, Cx26 and Cx32, which were co-expressed in these lateral endodermal cells. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments pinpointed Cx26 as the critical connexin for LR development, while Cx32 had no effect on laterality. Importantly, GRP morphology, ciliation and flow were not affected in Cx26 morphants. Our results demonstrate a decisive role of Cx26 in the transfer of laterality cues from the GRP to the left LPM, providing a novel access to the identification of the initial asymmetric signal generated by flow.

PubMed ID: 23213439
PMC ID: PMC3507211
Article link: Biol Open

Genes referenced: gjb1 gjb2 nodal nodal1 pitx2 rpsa

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Ayad, Heteromeric, but not homomeric, connexin channels are selectively permeable to inositol phosphates. 2006, Pubmed

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