A Lombardo, H V Isaacs and J M Slack
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, United Kingdom.
ABSTRACT We have analyzed the expression pattern of the Xenopus FGF-3 gene during early development and examined its biological activity in three different bioassays using Xenopus embryos. We show that from the early gastrula stage there is a domain of expression around the blastopore which becomes a posterior domain as the blastopore closes. An anterior ectodermal domain becomes detectable from mid-gastrula stages in the prospective hind-brain, and there are several later domains of expression: the midbrain-hindbrain junction, the otocyst, the pharyngeal pouches and the tailbud region. By using double whole-mount in situ hybridizations we show that the XFGF-3 expression in the brain is dynamically regulated both in time and space during development. The anterior domain of early neurula stage embryos corresponds to the prospective rhombomeres 3-5. By the time the neural tube is closed, XFGF-3 expression is restricted to r4 and later a new domain of expression is established at the midbrain/hindbrain junction. In addition, we show that, despite its difference in receptor specificity, XFGF-3 can induce the formation of mesoderm from animal caps similarly to other FGFs. It also displays a posteriorizing activity on whole embryos similar to other FGFs. Although the absence of maternal expression makes it unlikely that XFGF-3 is involved in mesoderm induction in vivo, its posterior domain of expression during gastrulation and its posteriorizing activity suggests that it participates in the maintenance of mesodermal gene expression and in the FGF mediated patterning of the anteroposterior axis during gastrulation.