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Dev Biol May 15, 2000; 221 (2): 321-36.

More than 95% reversal of left-right axis induced by right-sided hypodermic microinjection of activin into Xenopus neurula embryos.

Toyoizumi R , Mogi K , Takeuchi S .

In recent years, genes that show left-right (L-R) asymmetric expression patterns have been identified one after another in vertebrate gastrula-neurula embryos. However, we still have little information about when the irreversible L-R specification is established in vertebrate embryos. In this report, we show that almost 100% of the embryos develop to be L-R-inverted larvae after microinjection of activin molecules into the right lateral hypodermic space of Xenopus neurula embryos. After right-side injection of 10-250 pg activin protein, both early neurulae just after gastrulation movement (stage 13-14) and late neurulae just before neural tube closure (stage 17-18) showed almost 100% reversal of the heart and gut L-R axes. At higher doses of activin, more than 90% of the L-R-inverted embryos showed L-R reversal of both heart and gut. The survival ratio of the right-injected 4-day embryos was 90% on average. In the left-injected embryos, the occurrence of L-R inversion was less than 2% as observed in normal untreated siblings (1.7%). When the same amount of activin (1-50 pg) was microinjected into both sides of neurula embryos, the incidence of L-R inversion was reduced to 58%. The injection of activin along the dorsal midline in the trunk region also randomized the visceral L-R axis. Injection of activin into the right side changed normal left-handed expression of Xnr-1 to right-handed or bilateral expression. In contrast, left-handed expression of Pitx2 was switched to the right side by right activin injection. This is the first report of a method that achieves complete inversion of the visceral L-R axis by treatment of embryos at the neurula stage. Activin not only acts on the neurulae to cancel the original L-R specification up to the late neurula stage, but also rebuilds a new L-R axis whose left side coincides with the injection side. It is suggested that the left and right halves of neurulae have equal potential for L-R differentiation.

PubMed ID: 10790329
Article link: Dev Biol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: inhba nodal1 pitx2

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