The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 43: 295 - 303 (1999)

Vol 43, Issue 4

Misexpression of the RNA-binding protein ELRB in Xenopus presumptive neurectoderm induces proliferation arrest and programmed cell death

Published: 1 July 1999

M Perron, M P Furrer, M Wegnez and L Théodore

Laboratoire d'Embryologie Moléculaire et Expérimentale, CNRS UPRES-A 8080, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


Proteins of the ELAV/Hu family share the presence of three RNA binding domains. In Xenopus, three nervous system-specific elav/Hu related genes, elrB, elrC and elrD, have been identified so far. The temporally regulated expression patterns of elrB, elrC and elrD suggest their involvement at different steps of neural differentiation. In the present study we misexpressed elrB by RNA injection in early Xenopus embryos and analyzed morphologically and molecularly its effects on neural development. We showed that heterochronous expression of elrB in presumptive neurectoderm down-regulates the expression of neural markers, such as N-tubulin, as well as that of other Xenopus elav-like genes, elrC and elrD, whereas ectopic expression of elrB in presumptive mesoderm has no effect on MyoD. Misexpression of elrB also induces severe defects in neural tube development, associated with massive cell loss resulting from early cell cycle arrest and programmed cell death. Our results are discussed in the context of early neural differentiation.

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