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Development 2005 Apr 01;1328:1807-18. doi: 10.1242/dev.01712.
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The pro-apoptotic activity of a vertebrate Bar-like homeobox gene plays a key role in patterning the Xenopus neural plate by limiting the number of chordin- and shh-expressing cells.

Offner N , Duval N , Jamrich M , Durand B .

Targeted disruption of effectors molecules of the apoptotic pathway have demonstrated the occurrence and magnitude of early programmed cell death (EPCD), a form of apoptosis that affects proliferating and newly differentiated cells in vertebrates, and most dramatically cells of the central nervous system (CNS). Little is known about the molecular pathways controlling apoptosis at these early developmental stages, as the roles of EPCD during patterning of the developing nervous system. We describe a new function, in Xenopus neurodevelopment, for a highly conserved homeodomain protein Barhl2. Barhl2 promotes apoptosis in the Xenopus neuroectoderm and mesoderm, acting as a transcriptional repressor, through a mechanism that cannot be attributed to an unspecific cellular stress response. We show that the pro-apoptotic activity of Barhl2 is essential during normal neural plate formation as it limits the number of chordin- and Xshh-expressing cells in the prospective notochord and floorplate, which act as organizing centers. Our findings show that Barhl2 is part of a pathway regulating EPCD. They also provide evidence that apoptosis plays an important role in regulating the size of organizing centers.

PubMed ID: 15772136
Article link: Development
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: barhl1 barhl2 bcl2 chrd.1 eng gli1 gli3 gsc hesx1 krt12.4 myc ncam1 nppa pax6 shh sox3 tbx2 ventx2.2
Morpholinos: barhl2 MO1 barhl2 MO2

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