Background information. pes1 (pescadillo homologue 1) and ppan (Peter Pan) are multifunctional proteins involved in ribosome biogenesis, cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell migration and regulation of gene expression. Both proteins are required for early neural development in Xenopus laevis, as previously demonstrated.
Results. We show that the expression of both genes in the developing pronephros depends on wnt4 and fzd3 (frizzled homologue 3) function. Loss of pes1 or ppan by MO (morpholino oligonucleotide)-based knockdown approaches resulted in strong malformations during pronephric tubule formation. Defects were already notable during specification of pronephric progenitor cells, as shown by lhx1 expression. Moreover, we demonstrated that Xenopus pes1 and ppan interact physically and functionally and that pes1 and ppan can cross-rescue the loss of function phenotype of one another. Interference with rRNA synthesis, however, did not result in a similar early pronephros phenotype.
Conclusion. These results demonstrate that pes1 and ppan are required for Xenopus pronephros development and indicate that their function in the pronephros is independent of their role in ribosome biosynthesis.