Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 397 - 404 (2003)
© UPV/EHU Press

XMam1, the Xenopus homologue of mastermind, is essential to primary neurogenesis in Xenopus laevis embryos.

Tomohisa Katada and Tsutomu Kinoshita

Department of Bioscience, School of Science and Technology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Hyogo, Japan.

ABSTRACT Notch signaling is involved in cell fate determination and is evolutionally highly conserved in vertebrates and invertebrates. Mastermind is a nuclear protein which participates in Notch signaling and is involved in direct transactivation of target genes. Here we analyzed the expression and the function of Xenopus mastermind1 (XMam1) in the process of primary neurogenesis. XMam1 is 3,425 bp and encodes 1,139 amino acids. Overall, Mastermind proteins consist of a basic domain, two acidic domains and a glutamine-rich domain, which are highly conserved among species. The ubiquitous expression of XMam1 was observed in both maternal and zygotic stages. Whole-mount in situ hybridization showed that XMam1 mRNA was present in the ectoderm by the gastrula stage and localized at the anterior neural region in the neurula stage. Thereafter, XMam1 expression was restricted to the eye and otic vesicle in the tailbud-stage embryo. XMaml overexpression caused the repression of primary neural formation. The truncated form of XMam1 (lacking the C-terminus of XMam1; XMam1deltaC) led to excess formation of primary neurons. Furthermore, XMam1deltaC strongly repressed XESR-1 transactivation. These results show that XMaml is involved in primary neurogenesis by way of Notch signaling and is an essential component for transactivation of XESR-1 in Xenopus laevis embryos.