Anteriorward shifting of asymmetric Xnr1 expression and contralateral communication in left-right specification in Xenopus.

  • Ohi Y, Wright CV. Anteriorward shifting of asymmetric Xnr1 expression and contralateral communication in left-right specification in Xenopus. Developmental biology. 2007 Jan 15;301(2). 447-63. PMID: 16959238 [PubMed]. PMCID: PMC2567117. NIHMSID: NIHMS17173.

Abstract 

Transient asymmetric Nodal signaling in the left lateral plate mesoderm (L LPM) during tailbud/early somitogenesis stages is associated in all vertebrates examined with the development of stereotypical left-right (L-R) organ asymmetry. In Xenopus, asymmetric expression of Nodal-related 1 (Xnr1) begins in the posterior L LPM shortly after the initiation of bilateral perinotochordal expression in the posterior tailbud. The L LPM expression domain rapidly shifts forward to cover much of the flank of the embryo before being progressively downregulated, also in a posterior-to-anterior direction. The mechanisms underlying the initiation and propagation of Nodal/Xnr1 expression in the L LPM, and its transient nature, are not well understood. Removing the posterior tailbud domain prevents Xnr1 expression in the L LPM, consistent with the idea that normal embryos respond to a posteriorly derived asymmetrically acting positive inductive signal. The forward propagation of asymmetric Xnr1 expression occurs LPM-autonomously via planar tissue communication. The shifting is prevented by Nodal signaling inhibitors, implicating an underlying requirement for Xnr1-to-Xnr1 induction. It is also unclear how asymmetric Nodal signals are modulated during L-R patterning. Small LPM grafts overexpressing Xnr1 placed into the R LPM of tailbud embryos induced the expression of the normally L-sided genes Xnr1, Xlefty, and XPitx2, and inverted body situs, demonstrating the late-stage plasticity of the LPM. Orthogonal Xnr1 signaling from the LPM strongly induced Xlefty expression in the midline, consistent with recent findings in the mouse and demonstrating for the first time in another species conservation in the mechanism that induces and maintains the midline barrier. Our findings suggest that there is long-range contralateral communication between L and R LPM, involving Xlefty in the midline, over a substantial period of tailbud embryogenesis, and therefore lend further insight into how, and for how long, the midline maintains a L versus R status in the LPM.