Brain induction in ascidian embryos is dependent on juxtaposition of FGF9/16/20-producing and -receiving cells

Yuriko Miyazaki, Hiroki Nishida, Gaku Kumano

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Coordinated regulation of inductive events, both spatially and temporally, during animal development ensures that tissues are induced at their specific positions within the embryo. The ascidian brain is induced in cells at the anterior edge of the animal hemisphere by fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signals secreted from vegetal cells. To clarify how this process is spatially regulated, we first identified the sources of the FGF signal by examining the expression of brain markers Hr-Otx and Hr-ETR-1 in embryos in which FGF signaling is locally inhibited by injecting individual blastomeres with morpholino oligonucleotide against Hr-FGF9/16/20, which encodes an endogenous brain inducer. The blastomeres identified as the inducing sources are A5.1 and A5.2 at the 16-cell stage and A6.2 and A6.4 at the 24-cell stage, which are juxtaposed with brain precursors at the anterior periphery of the embryo at the respective stages. We also showed that all the cells of the animal hemisphere are capable of expressing Hr-Otx in response to the FGF signal. These results suggest that the position of inducers, rather than competence, plays an important role in determining which animal cells are induced to become brain tissues during ascidian embryogenesis. This situation in brain induction contrasts with that in mesoderm induction, where the positions at which the notochord and mesenchyme are induced are determined mainly by intrinsic competence factors that are inherited by signal-receiving cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-188
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopment Genes and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar


  • Ascidian
  • Brain
  • FGF
  • Neural induction


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