Spatial distribution of mRNAs for activin receptors and follistatin was studied by Northern blot hybridization using RNAs from different parts of dissected Xenopus embryos. mRNAs of two activin receptors (type IIA and IIB) occurred uniformly in pre-gastrular embryos, but occurred in larger amounts in ectoderm (in gastrulae), neural plate (in neurulae) and anterior (head) regions (in tailbud embryos) than in other embryonic regions. By contrast, follistatin mRNA appeared almost exclusively in the dorsal mesoderm including invaginating organizer region at the gastrula stage, in notochord and in dorsal ectoderm at the neurula stage, then in anterior part at the tailbud stage. The localized patterns of the distribution of these mRNAs may be due to the regionally different zygotic expression of genes in embryos at later stages. From the relatively widespread pattern of distribution of their mRNAs, we assume that both type IIA and type IIB activin receptors have broad functions in ectodermal and neural differentiation. On the other hand, follistatin mRNA showed quite a restricted pattern of expression, and therefore, we assume that follistatin may have functions more specifically related to the sites of expression of its mRNA. Thus, follistatin may be involved in the differentiation of notochord itself and/or directly be responsible for organizer functions such as neural induction and subsequent differentiation of induced neural tissues at the gastrula and later stages.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology