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Dev Biol April 15, 2020; 460 (2): 99-107.

Xenopus embryos show a compensatory response following perturbation of the Notch signaling pathway.

Solini GE , Pownall ME , Hillenbrand MJ , Tocheny CE , Paudel S , Halleran AD , Bianchi CH , Huyck RW , Saha MS .

As an essential feature of development, robustness ensures that embryos attain a consistent phenotype despite genetic and environmental variation. The growing number of examples demonstrating that embryos can mount a compensatory response to germline mutations in key developmental genes has heightened interest in the phenomenon of embryonic robustness. While considerable progress has been made in elucidating genetic compensation in response to germline mutations, the diversity, mechanisms, and limitations of embryonic robustness remain unclear. In this work, we have examined whether Xenopus laevis embryos are able to compensate for perturbations of the Notch signaling pathway induced by RNA injection constructs that either upregulate or inhibit this signaling pathway. Consistent with earlier studies, we found that at neurula stages, hyperactivation of the Notch pathway inhibited neural differentiation while inhibition of Notch signaling increases premature differentiation as assayed by neural beta tubulin expression. However, surprisingly, by hatching stages, embryos begin to compensate for these perturbations, and by swimming tadpole stages most embryos exhibited normal neuronal gene expression. Using cell proliferation and TUNEL assays, we show that the compensatory response is, in part, mediated by modulating levels of cell proliferation and apoptosis. This work provides an additional model for addressing the mechanisms of embryonic robustness and of genetic compensation.

PubMed ID: 31899211
PMC ID: PMC7263880
Article link: Dev Biol
Grant support: [+]
Genes referenced: drosha notch1 pcna rbpj sox2 sts tubb2b
GO keywords: Notch signaling pathway

Article Images: [+] show captions

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