Xenopus fibrillin is expressed in the organizer and is the earliest component of matrix at the developing notochord-somite boundary



We identify a Xenopus fibrillin homolog (XF), and show that its earliest developmental expression is in presumptive dorsal mesoderm at gastrulation, and that XF expression is regulated by mesoderm-inducing factors in animal cap assays. XF protein is also first detected in presumptive mesoderm, but is concentrated specifically into extracellular-matrix structures that begin to develop de novo by mid-gastrulation at both of the bilateral presumptive notochord-somite boundaries. Later in embryogenesis, XF protein is localized to the extracellular matrix at tissue boundaries, where it is found surrounding the notochord, the somites, and the neural tube, as well as under the epidermis. This pattern of protein deposition combines to give the appearance of an “embryonic skeleton,” suggesting that one role for XF is to serve as a mechanical element in the embryo prior to bone deposition. Developmental Dynamics 235:1974–1983, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.