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Evodevo 2013 Nov 04;41:31. doi: 10.1186/2041-9139-4-31.
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Nuclearization of β-catenin in ectodermal precursors confers organizer-like ability to induce endomesoderm and pattern a pluteus larva.

Byrum CA , Wikramanayake AH .

BACKGROUND: In many bilaterians, asymmetric activation of canonical Wnt (cWnt) signaling at the posterior pole is critical for anterior-posterior (AP) body axis formation. In 16-cell stage sea urchins, nuclearization of β-catenin in micromeres activates a gene regulatory network that defines body axes and induces endomesoderm. Transplanting micromeres to the animal pole of a host embryo induces ectopic endomesoderm in the mesomeres (ectoderm precursors) whereas inhibiting cWnt signaling blocks their endomesoderm-inducing activity and the micromeres become ectoderm-like. We have tested whether ectopic activation of cWnt signaling in mesomeres is sufficient to impart the cells with organizer-like abilities, allowing them to pattern normal embryonic body axes when recombined with a field of mesomeres. RESULTS: Fertilized eggs were microinjected with constitutively active Xenopus β-catenin (actβ-cat) mRNA and allowed to develop until the 16-cell stage. Two mesomeres from injected embryos were then recombined with isolated animal halves (AH) from uninjected 16-cell stage embryos. Control chimeras produced animalized phenotypes (hollow balls of ectoderm) and rarely formed skeletogenic mesoderm (SM)-derived spicules, endoderm or pigment cells, a type of non-skeletogenic mesoderm (NSM). In contrast, over half of the 0.5 pg/pL actβ-cat mesomere/AH chimeras formed a partial or complete gut (exhibiting AP polarity), contained mesenchyme-like cells similar to SM, and produced pigment cells. At three days, chimeras formed plutei with normal embryonic body axes. When fates of the actβ-cat mRNA-injected mesomeres were tracked, we found that injected mesomeres formed mesenchyme-like and pigment cells, but endoderm was induced. Higher concentrations of actβ-cat mRNA were less likely to induce endoderm or pigment cells, but had similar mesenchyme-like cell production to 0.5 pg/pL actβ-cat mesomere/AH chimeras. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that nuclear β-catenin is sufficient to endow naïve cells with the ability to act as an organizing center and that β-catenin has both cell-autonomous and non-autonomous effects on cell fate specification in a concentration-dependent manner. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that a shift in the site of early cWnt signaling in cleaving embryos could have modified polarity of the main body axes during metazoan evolution.

PubMed ID: 24180614
PMC ID: PMC3835408
Article link: Evodevo

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC100888042 LOC115919910 LOC590297 LOC594353 pole

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References [+] :
Angerer, The evolution of nervous system patterning: insights from sea urchin development. 2011, Pubmed, Echinobase