A cytoplasmic determinant for dorsal axis formation in an early embryo of Xenopus laevis

M. Yuge, Y. Kobayakawa, M. Fujisue, K. Yamana

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49 Citations (Scopus)


In Xenopus laevis, dorsal cells that arise at the future dorsal side of an early cleaving embryo have already acquired the ability to cause axis formation. Since the distribution of cytoplasmic components is markedly heterogeneous in an egg and embryo, it has been supposed that the dorsal cells are endowed with the activity to form axial structures by inheriting a unique cytoplasmic component or components localized in the dorsal region of an egg or embryo. However, there has been no direct evidence for this. To examine the activity of the cytoplasm of dorsal cells, we injected cytoplasm (dorsal cytoplasm) from dorsal vegetal cells of a Xenopus 16-cell embryo into ventral vegetal cells of a simultaneous recipient. The cytoplasm caused secondary axis formation in 42% of recipients. Histological examination revealed that well-developed secondary axes included notochord, as well as a neural tube and somites. However, injection of cytoplasm of ventral vegetal cells never caused secondary axis and most recipients became normal tailbud embryos. Furthermore, about two-thirds of ventral isolated halves injected with dorsal cytoplasm formed axial structures. These results show that dorsal, but not ventral, cytoplasm contains the component or components responsible for axis formation. This can be the first step towards identifying the molecular basis of dorsal axis formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1056
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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