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Cells Dev 2024 Apr 03;:203918. doi: 10.1016/j.cdev.2024.203918.
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Brain enlargement with rostral bias in larvae from a spontaneously occurring female variant line of Xenopus; role of aberrant embryonic Wnt/β-catenin signaling.

Hongo I , Yamaguchi C , Okamoto H .

Increased brain size and its rostral bias are hallmarks of vertebrate evolution, but the underlying developmental and genetic basis remains poorly understood. To provide clues to understanding vertebrate brain evolution, we investigated the developmental mechanisms of brain enlargement observed in the offspring of a previously unrecognized, spontaneously occurring female variant line of Xenopus that appears to reflect a genetic variation. Brain enlargement in larvae from this line showed a pronounced rostral bias that could be traced back to the neural plate, the primordium of the brain. At the gastrula stage, the Spemann organizer, which is known to induce the neural plate from the adjacent dorsal ectoderm and give it the initial rostrocaudal patterning, was expanded from dorsal to ventral in a large proportion of the offspring of variant females. Consistently, siamois expression, which is required for Spemann organizer formation, was expanded laterally from dorsal to ventral at the blastula stage in variant offspring. This implies that the active region of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway was similarly expanded in advance on the dorsal side, as siamois is a target gene of this pathway. Notably, the earliest detectable change in variant offspring was in fertilized eggs, in which maternal wnt11b mRNA, a candidate dorsalizing factor that activates Wnt/β-catenin signaling, had a wider distribution in the vegetal cortical cytoplasm. Since lateral spreading of wnt11b mRNA, and possibly that of other potential maternal dorsalizing factors in these eggs, is expected to facilitate lateral expansion of the active region of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway during subsequent embryonic stages, we concluded that aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling could cause rostral-biased brain enlargement via expansion of siamois expression and consequent expansion of the Spemann organizer in Xenopus. Our studies of spontaneously occurring variations in brain development in Xenopus would provide hints for uncovering genetic mutations that drive analogous morphogenetic variations during vertebrate brain evolution.

PubMed ID: 38574816
Article link: Cells Dev

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: arhgap11a.1 cer1 chrd emx1 en2 fgf2 foxb1 foxg1 hes7.1 rax sia1 sox2 srgap2 wnt11b
GO keywords: brain development [+]

Article Images: [+] show captions