XB-ART-851Development February 1, 2006; 133 (3): 485-94.
Ras-dva, a member of novel family of small GTPases, is required for the anterior ectoderm patterning in the Xenopus laevis embryo.
Ras-like small GTPases are involved in the regulation of many processes essential for the specification of the vertebrate body plan. Recently, we identified the gene of novel small GTPase Ras-dva, which is specifically expressed at the anterior margin of the neural plate of the Xenopus laevis embryo. Now, we demonstrate that Ras-dva and its homologs in other species constitute a novel protein family, distinct from the previously known families of small GTPases. We show that the expression of Ras-dva begins during gastrulation throughout the anterior ectoderm and is activated by the homeodomain transcription factor Otx2; however, later on, Ras-dva expression is inhibited in the anterior neural plate by another homeodomain factor Xanf1. Downregulation of Ras-dva functioning by the dominant-negative mutant or by the antisense morpholino oligonucleotides results in severe malformations of the forebrain and derivatives of the cranial placodes. Importantly, although the observed abnormalities can be rescued by co-injection of the Ras-dva mRNA, they cannot be rescued by the mRNA of the closest Ras-dva homolog from another family of small GTPases, Ras. This fact indicates functional specificity of the Ras-dva signaling pathway. At the molecular level, downregulation of Ras-dva inhibits the expression of several regulators of the anterior neural plate and folds patterning, such as Otx2, BF-1 (also known as Foxg1), Xag2, Pax6, Slug and Sox9, and interferes with FGF8 signaling within the anterior ectoderm. By contrast, expression of the epidermal regulator BMP4 and its target genes, Vent1, Vent2b and Msx1, is upregulated. Together, the data obtained indicate that Ras-dva is an essential component of the signaling network that patterns the early anterior neural plate and the adjacent ectoderm in the Xenopus laevis embryos.
PubMed ID: 16410411
Article link: Development
Genes referenced: ag1 bmp4 fgf8 hesx1 msx1 otx2 pax6 ras-dva1 snai2 sox9 ventx1.2
Morpholinos: ras-dva1 MO1
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