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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1998 Aug 04;9516:9343-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.16.9343.
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beta-Catenin is essential for patterning the maternally specified animal-vegetal axis in the sea urchin embryo.

Wikramanayake AH , Huang L , Klein WH .

In sea urchin embryos, the animal-vegetal axis is specified during oogenesis. After fertilization, this axis is patterned to produce five distinct territories by the 60-cell stage. Territorial specification is thought to occur by a signal transduction cascade that is initiated by the large micromeres located at the vegetal pole. The molecular mechanisms that mediate the specification events along the animal-vegetal axis in sea urchin embryos are largely unknown. Nuclear beta-catenin is seen in vegetal cells of the early embryo, suggesting that this protein plays a role in specifying vegetal cell fates. Here, we test this hypothesis and show that beta-catenin is necessary for vegetal plate specification and is also sufficient for endoderm formation. In addition, we show that beta-catenin has pronounced effects on animal blastomeres and is critical for specification of aboral ectoderm and for ectoderm patterning, presumably via a noncell-autonomous mechanism. These results support a model in which a Wnt-like signal released by vegetal cells patterns the early embryo along the animal-vegetal axis. Our results also reveal similarities between the sea urchin animal-vegetal axis and the vertebrate dorsal-ventral axis, suggesting that these axes share a common evolutionary origin.

PubMed ID: 9689082
PMC ID: PMC21340
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Grant support: [+]

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC115919910 LOC115925415 LOC594353 pole

References [+] :
Aberle, beta-catenin is a target for the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. 1997, Pubmed