The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 463 - 470 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 5

Retinoid signalling acts during the gastrula stages to promote primary neurogenesis

Published: 30 November -0001

C Sharpe and K Goldstone

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, England.


Retinoid signalling has been manipulated at different developmental stages to identify a critical period in the gastrula embryo for retinoid-dependent primary neurone formation. The expression of retinoid receptor RARalpha2 in the posterior neuroectoderm of the gastrula embryo is therefore consistent with a role in primary neurogenesis. In addition we show that the expression of neurogenin-1 and XDelta-1, two genes that contribute to the determination of primary neurone cell-fate in the gastrula embryo, respond to retinoid signalling. These results indicate that retinoid signalling is required for an early step in the process of primary neurogenesis. When retinoid signalling is increased, the number of primary neurones increases, but the phenotype is not the same as the neurogenic phenotype that follows the overexpression of a dominant negative form of XDelta-1. Whereas increased retinoid signalling expands the width of primary neurone stripes, dominant negative XDelta-1 increases the density of primary neurones within the stripes. When retinoid signalling is increased and the primary neurone stripes expand, the expression domain of a floorplate marker contracts. Conversely, when retinoid signalling is inhibited, the expression patterns of floorplate markers widen. These results indicate that retinoid signalling acts at an early stage in primary neural development when the fates of different regions of the neuroectoderm are being determined.

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