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Cells Dev 2023 Dec 16;:203897. doi: 10.1016/j.cdev.2023.203897.
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Head organizer: Cerberus and IGF cooperate in brain induction in Xenopus embryos.

Azbazdar Y , Pera EM , De Robertis EM .

Neural induction by cell-cell signaling was discovered a century ago by the organizer transplantations of Spemann and Mangold in amphibians. Spemann later found that early dorsal blastopore lips induced heads and late organizers trunk-tail structures. Identifying region-specific organizer signals has been a driving force in the progress of animal biology. Head induction in the absence of trunk is designated archencephalic differentiation. Two specific head inducers, Cerberus and Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), that induce archencephalic brain but not trunk-tail structures have been described previously. However, whether these two signals interact with each other had not been studied to date and was the purpose of the present investigation. It was found that Cerberus, a multivalent growth factor antagonist that inhibits Nodal, BMP and Wnt signals, strongly cooperated with IGF2, a growth factor that provides a positive signal through tyrosine kinase IGF receptors that activate MAPK and other pathways. The ectopic archencephalic structures induced by the combination of Cerberus and IGF2 are of higher frequency and larger than either one alone. They contain brain, a cyclopic eye and multiple olfactory placodes, without trace of trunk structures such as notochord or somites. A dominant-negative secreted IGF receptor 1 blocked Cerberus activity, indicating that endogenous IGF signals are required for ectopic brain formation. In a sensitized embryonic system, in which embryos were depleted of β-catenin, IGF2 did not by itself induce neural tissue while in combination with Cerberus it greatly enhanced formation of circular brain structures expressing the anterior markers Otx2 and Rx2a, but not spinal cord or notochord markers. The main conclusion of this work is that IGF provides a positive signal initially uniformly expressed throughout the embryo that potentiates the effect of an organizer-specific negative signal mediated by Cerberus. The results are discussed in the context of the history of neural induction.

PubMed ID: 38109998
Article link: Cells Dev

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: admp cer1 chrd fgf8 igf2 ins mapk1 nodal otx2 rax smad4 sox2 wnt8a
GO keywords: embryo development [+]

Article Images: [+] show captions