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Curr Biol May 4, 2000; 10 (9): 531-4.
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Nodal-related signals establish mesendodermal fate and trunk neural identity in zebrafish.

Feldman B , Dougan ST , Schier AF , Talbot WS .

The vertebrate body plan arises during gastrulation, when morphogenetic movements form the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. In zebrafish, mesoderm and endoderm derive from the marginal region of the late blastula, and cells located nearer the animal pole form the ectoderm [1]. Analysis in mouse, Xenopus, and zebrafish has demonstrated that Nodal-related proteins, a subclass of the TGF-beta superfamily, are essential for mesendoderm development [2], but previous mutational studies have not established whether Nodal-related signals control fate specification, morphogenetic movements, or survival of mesendodermal precursors. Here, we report that Nodal-related signals are required to allocate marginal cells to mesendodermal fates in the zebrafish embryo. In double mutants for the zebrafish nodal-related genes squint (sqt) and cyclops (cyc) [3] [4] [5], dorsal marginal cells adopt neural fates, whereas in wild-type embryos, cells at this position form endoderm and axial mesoderm. Involution movements characteristic of developing mesendoderm are also blocked in the absence of Nodal signaling. Because it has been proposed [6] that inhibition of Nodal-related signals promotes the development of anterior neural fates, we also examined anteroposterior organization of the neural tube in sqt;cyc mutants. Anterior trunk spinal cord is absent in sqt;cyc mutants, despite the presence of more anterior and posterior neural fates. These results demonstrate that nodal-related genes are required for the allocation of dorsal marginal cells to mesendodermal fates and for anteroposterior patterning of the neural tube.

PubMed ID: 10801442
Article link: Curr Biol
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: nodal nodal1