Int. J. Dev. Biol. 46: 279 - 283 (2002)
A dynamic requirement for community interactions during Xenopus myogenesis
The community effect is an interaction among a group of many nearby cells that is necessary for them to maintain tissue-specific gene expression and differentiate co-ordinately. A community interaction is required for the muscle precursor cells of the Xenopus embryo to develop into terminally differentiated muscle, but exactly when and where the community effect acts during myogenesis has not been determined. Here, we ask whether dependence on the community effect varies with the developmental age of the muscle precursor cells. We find that dependence on the community signal changes with time through the muscle precursor cell population. During neurulation muscle precursor cells that are still in the vicinity of the blastopore and that are fated to form posterior muscle continue to require interactions with their neighbours, while differentiation of the anterior paraxial mesoderm,which gastrulated earlier, is independent of cell contact at this time. Thus the time during which a particular sub-population of muscle precursor cells requires a community interaction is related to their final destination along the anterior-posterior axis. In addition we show that this later acting community interaction around the blastopore involves FGF signalling.