The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 1119 - 1129 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 10

X-epilectin: a novel epidermal fucolectin regulated by BMP signalling

Original Article | Published: 1 December 2004

Karine Massé1, Rebecca Baldwin2, Mark W. Barnett3 and Elizabeth A. Jones*,1

1Molecular Physiology, Department of Biological Sciences, Warwick University, Coventry, U.K., 2Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Manchester, U.K. and 3Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, U.K.


This paper reports the cloning and characterisation of a new posterior epidermal marker, X-epilectin, in Xenopus laevis. This gene encodes for a fucolectin, which belongs to the lectin superfamily of carbohydrate binding proteins and specifically binds fucose residues. RT-PCR and in situ hybridisation show that the expression of this gene is switched on during gastrulation and up-regulated during neurula stages and found expressed ubiquitously throughout the epidermis. From tailbud stages, the expression is limited to the dorsal posterior region of the embryo, suggesting that X-epilectin expression is regulated along anteroposterior and dorsoventral gradients during development. In the adult, X-epilectin is mainly expressed in intestinal components, kidney, spinal cord and skin. The effects of growth factors on the regulation of X-epilectin were studied. Change of the fate of animal caps into cement gland or dorsal mesoderm induces a down-regulation of X-epilectin expression in explants treated respectively with ammonium chloride and activin A. We also show that X-epilectin expression is down-regulated by Noggin and tBR and that this effect is inhibited by BMP4 over-expression, suggesting X-epilectin expression is mediated by the BMP signalling pathway.


fucolectin, Xenopus laevis, epidermis, BMP signalling, anteroposterior axis

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