Two phases of Hox gene regulation during early Xenopus development. uri icon


  • We have shown previously that fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signalling in posterior regions of the Xenopus embryo is required for the development of the trunk and tail via a molecular pathway that includes the caudal-related gene Xcad3 and the posterior Hox genes [1]. These results have been contested by the work of Kroll and Amaya [2], which shows that Xenopus embryos transgenic for a dominant-negative form of the FGF receptor (FGF-RI) express posterior Hox genes normally, leading these authors to suggest that the FGFs are not required for anteroposterior (A-P) patterning of the dorsal axis. In order to investigate the apparent discrepancy between these studies, we have produced Xenopus embryos transgenic for two inhibitors of the FGF/Caudal pathway: a kinase-deficient dominant-negative FGF receptor (XFD) [3]; and a domain-swapped form of Xcad3 (Xcad-EnR) in which the activation domain of Xcad3 is replaced by the repression domain of the Drosophila Engrailed protein. Both of these were introduced as fusions with the green fluorescent protein (GFP), which allows identification of non-mosaic transgenic embryos at early gastrula stages by simply looking for GFP fluorescence. Analysis of gene expression in embryos transgenic for these constructs indicated that the activation of posterior Hox genes during early neurula stages absolutely requires FGF signalling and transcriptional activation by Xcad3, while the maintenance of Hox gene expression in the trunk and tail during later development is independent of both FGF and Xcad.

publication date

  • May 21, 1998

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