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Development December 1, 2002; 129 (24): 5743-52.
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Beta-catenin/Tcf-regulated transcription prior to the midblastula transition.

Following fertilization, the zygotic genome in many organisms is quiescent until the midblastula transition (MBT), when large-scale transcription begins. In Xenopus embryos, for example, transcription is believed to be repressed until the twelfth cell division. Thus, although dorsal-ventral patterning begins during the first cell cycle, little attention has been given to transcriptional regulation in pre-MBT development. We present evidence that regulated transcription begins during early cleavage stages and that the beta-catenin-Tcf complex is required for the transcription of the Xenopus nodal genes Xnr5 and Xnr6 as early as the 256-cell stage. Moreover, inhibition of beta-catenin/Tcf function can block dorsal development, but only if the inhibition begins early and is maintained throughout pre-MBT stages. Dorsal development can be rescued in ventralized embryos if Tcf-dependent transcription is activated prior to MBT, but activation of Tcf after MBT cannot rescue ventralized embryos, suggesting that beta-catenin/Tcf-dependent transcription is required prior to MBT for dorsal-ventral patterning in Xenopus.

PubMed ID: 12421713
Article link: Development

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: ctnnb1 nodal nodal5.4 nodal6
Morpholinos: ctnnb1 MO1