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Initiating head development in mouse embryos: integrating signalling and transcriptional activity

, : Initiating head development in mouse embryos: integrating signalling and transcriptional activity. Open Biology 2(3): 120030-120030

The generation of an embryonic body plan is the outcome of inductive interactions between the progenitor tissues that underpin their specification, regionalization and morphogenesis. The intercellular signalling activity driving these processes is deployed in a time- and site-specific manner, and the signal strength must be precisely controlled. Receptor and ligand functions are modulated by secreted antagonists to impose a dynamic pattern of globally controlled and locally graded signals onto the tissues of early post-implantation mouse embryo. In response to the WNT, Nodal and Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signalling cascades, the embryo acquires its body plan, which manifests as differences in the developmental fate of cells located at different positions in the anterior-posterior body axis. The initial formation of the anterior (head) structures in the mouse embryo is critically dependent on the morphogenetic activity emanating from two signalling centres that are juxtaposed with the progenitor tissues of the head. A common property of these centres is that they are the source of antagonistic factors and the hub of transcriptional activities that negatively modulate the function of WNT, Nodal and BMP signalling cascades. These events generate the scaffold of the embryonic head by the early-somite stage of development. Beyond this, additional tissue interactions continue to support the growth, regionalization, differentiation and morphogenesis required for the elaboration of the structure recognizable as the embryonic head.


PMID: 22754658

DOI: 10.1098/rsob.120030

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