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Development 1996 Nov 01;12211:3409-18. doi: 10.1242/dev.122.11.3409.
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A posteriorising factor, retinoic acid, reveals that anteroposterior patterning controls the timing of neuronal differentiation in Xenopus neuroectoderm.

During early development of the Xenopus central nervous system (CNS), neuronal differentiation can be detected posteriorly at neural plate stages but is delayed anteriorly until after neural tube closure. A similar delay in neuronal differentiation also occurs in the anterior neural tissue that forms in vitro when isolated ectoderm is treated with the neural inducer noggin. Here we examine the factors that control the timing of neuronal differentiation both in embryos and in neural tissue induced by noggin (noggin caps). We show that the delay in neuronal differentiation that occurs in noggin caps cannot be overcome by inhibiting the activity of the neurogenic gene, X-Delta-1, which normally inhibits neuronal differentiation, suggesting that it represents a novel level of regulation. Conversely, we show that the timing of neuronal differentiation can be changed from late to early after treating noggin caps or embryos with retinoic acid (RA), a putative posteriorising agent. Concommittal with changes in the timing of neuronal differentiation, RA suppresses the expression of anterior neural genes and promotes the expression of posterior neural genes. The level of early neuronal differentiation induced by RA alone is greatly increased by the additional expression of the proneural gene, XASH3. These results indicate that early neuronal differentiation in neuralised ectoderm requires posteriorising signals, as well as signals that promote the activity of proneural genes such as XASH3. In addition, these result suggest that neuronal differentiation is controlled by anteroposterior (A-P) patterning, which exerts a temporal control on the onset of neuronal differentiation.

PubMed ID: 8951057
Article link: Development

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: ascl2 foxg1 nog otx2 tubb2b

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