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Development 2002 Jan 01;1291:37-52. doi: 10.1242/dev.129.1.37.
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Beta-catenin, MAPK and Smad signaling during early Xenopus development.

Knowledge of when and where signaling pathways are activated is crucial for understanding embryonic development. In this study, we have systematically analyzed and compared the signaling pattern of four major pathways by localization of the activated key components beta-catenin (Wnt proteins), MAPK (tyrosine kinase receptors/FGF), Smad1 (BMP proteins) and Smad2 (Nodal/activin/Vg1). We have determined semi-quantitatively the distribution of these components at 18 consecutive stages in Xenopus development, from early blastula to tailbud stages, by immunofluorescence on serial cryosections. The image obtained is that of very dynamic and widespread activities, with very few inactive regions. Signaling fields can vary from large gradients to restricted areas with sharp borders. They do not respect tissue boundaries. This direct visualization of active signaling verifies several predictions inferred from previous functional data. It also reveals unexpected signal patterns, pointing to some poorly understood aspects of early development. In several instances, the patterns strikingly overlap, suggesting extensive interplay between the various pathways. To test this possibility, we have manipulated maternal beta-catenin signaling and determined the effect on the other pathways in the blastula embryo. We found that the patterns of P-MAPK, P-Smad1 and P-Smad2 are indeed strongly dependent on beta-catenin at this stage.

PubMed ID: 11782399
Article link: Development

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: ctnnb1 mapk1 smad1 smad2 uqcc6

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