The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 41: 667 - 677 (1997)

Vol 41, Issue 5

Characterization and early embryonic expression of a neural specific transcription factor xSOX3 in Xenopus laevis

Published: 1 October 1997

R Penzel, R Oschwald, Y Chen, L Tacke and H Grunz

Universit├Ąt GH Essen, Department of Zoophysiology, Germany.


Using the powerful RDA-PCR-technique we could identify a novel Xenopus specific Sox-gene (xSox3) a transcription factor closely related to the sox sub-group B, which contains a HMG box. In normogenesis the xSox3 gene is expressed in the presumptive central nervous system. Furthermore a maternal component is also found in oocytes and in early cleavage stages in the animal hemisphere only. By whole-mount in situ hybridization the first zygotic transcription activities can be detected in the late blastula in the dorsal ectoderm and the dorsal and lateral part of the marginal zone. The expression reaches the highest level atthe late gastrula till the late neurula and fades after stage 30. The expression is restricted from gastrulation onwards to the presumptive brain area and the lens epithelium. Furthermore we could show that the gene is expressed in isolated Spemann organizer with adjacent neuroectoderm. The signal can be suppressed by suramin treatment, which inhibits neural development and causes a shift of dorsal to ventral mesoderm. The treatment of whole embryos with LiCl and UV results in an overexpression or an inhibition of the expression, respectively. In exogastrulae (pseudo-exogastrulae) the gene is expressed in the close vicinity to the endomesoderm only, but not in the distal most part of the ectoderm. This result indicates that it is unlikely that the gene can be activated by planar signals. The gene can also be activated in dissociated gastrula ectoderm without mesodermal or neural inducers. That means that the gene can be expressed in ectodermal cells in a cell autonomous manner.

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