What's your position? the Xenopus cement gland as a paradigm of regional specification

Authors

  • Fiona C. Wardle,

    1. Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Institute, Cambridge, UK
    Current affiliation:
    1. Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Institute, Cambridge, UK
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  • Hazel L. Sive

    Corresponding author
    1. Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
    • Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nine Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142.
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Abstract

The correct positioning of organs during embryonic development requires multiple cues. The Xenopus cement gland is a mucus-secreting epithelium that is a simple model for organogenesis, allowing detailed analysis of this complex process. The cement gland forms at a conserved anterior position, where embryonic ectoderm and endoderm touch. In all deuterostomes, this region will form the stomodeum (primitive mouth) and, in some aquatic larva, will also form a cement gland. In recent years, a model has been put forward suggesting that an intermediate level of BMP signaling in the ectoderm leads to cement gland formation. We propose an alternative model whereby, during gastrulation, the cement gland (CG) is positioned by the overlap of three domains, corresponding to anterodorsal identity (AD), ventrolateral identity (VL), and ectodermal outer layer identity (EO), defining the equation (AD + VL + EO = CG). Anterodorsal identity requires a contribution by the transcription factor Otx2 while ventrolateral identity requires the BMP4 signaling pathway. These postional cues are integrated to activate cement gland differentiation. This integration appears to require intermediate steps, including expression of pitx genes, and members of the ATF/CREB and Ets transcription factor families. BioEssays 25:717–726, 2003. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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