Occurrence of dorsal axis-inducing activity around the vegetal pole of an uncleaved Xenopus egg and displacement to the equatorial region by cortical rotation

M. Fujisue, Y. Kobayakawa, K. Yamana

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Specification of the dorsoventral axis is a subject of great importance in amphibian embryogenesis. We have found that cytoplasm of the vegetal dorsal cells of a 16-cell embryo of Xenopus laevis, when injected into the ventral vegetal cells of a recipient at the same stage, can induce formation of a second axis. In the present experiments, using the same assay procedure, we found that the cytoplasm around the vegetal pole of an egg before cortical rotation is also active in inducing a second axis, that the activity decreases throughout the second half of the cell cycle and appears in a presumptive dorsal equatorial region at the 2- to 16-cell stages. This is the first demonstration of the localization of dorsal forming activity in any specific region of an egg. After UV irradiation, a treatment that is known to block cortical rotation and thereby inhibit axis specification, the activity remains near the vegetal pole beyond the first cell cycle and does not appear in an equatorial region, at least at the 16-cell stage. This suggests that cortical rotation or a related force is in some way involved in changes in distribution of the activity. We also found that UV-irradiated 8-cell embryos can rescue dorsal development when they are cut into halves along the first cleavage plane. Histological examination revealed that the rescued embryos have a neural tube and notochord. In the half embryo, the animal and vegetal regions came into contact during wound healing, an event that enables the activity to localize in the new equator of an embryo. Therefore this rescue suggests that, if the activity is distributed only in the equatorial region, dorsal specification occurs. In fact, the dorsal side of the rescued embryos seems to correspond to the plane through which the embryos have been cut. Based on our results, we propose (1) that a determinant that carries axis-inducing activity is first present around the vegetal pole, (2) that the determinant shifts from the vegetal pole to an equatorial region by or in close association with cortical rotation and (3) that occurrence of the determinant in the equatorial region is a prerequisite for axis specification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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