The opposing homeobox genes Goosecoid and Vent1/2 self-regulate Xenopus patterning

EMBO J. 2007 May 24 pdf

Sander V, Reversade B, De Robertis EM.

We present a loss-of-function study using antisense morpholino (MO) reagents for the organizer-specific gene () and the ventral genes and . Unlike in the mouse Gsc is required in for during , causing phenotypes ranging from reduction of head structures-including and -to expansion of ventral tissues in MO-injected embryos. The overexpression effects of Gsc mRNA require the expression of the BMP antagonist , a downstream target of Gsc. Combined Vent1 and Vent2 MOs strongly dorsalized the embryo. Unexpectedly, simultaneous depletion of all three genes led to a rescue of almost normal development in a variety of embryological assays. Thus, the phenotypic effects of depleting Gsc or Vent1/2 are caused by the transcriptional upregulation of their opposing counterparts. A principal function of Gsc and Vent1/2 homeobox genes might be to mediate a self-adjusting mechanism that restores the basic body plan when deviations from the norm occur, rather than generating individual cell types. The results may shed light on the molecular mechanisms of genetic redundancy.

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