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Heterogeneity across the dorso-ventral axis in zebrafish EVL is regulated by a novel module consisting of sox, snail1a and max genes.

Chen YY, Harris MP, Levesque MP, Nüsslein-Volhard C, Sonawane M
Mechanisms of development


In vertebrates, the dorso-ventral (DV) axis is defined by the combinatorial action of localised Wnt, FGF and Nodal signalling along with the antagonizing activities of Chordin and BMP pathways. Our knowledge of the factors that may act in concert with these core pathways to regulate early embryonic patterning is far from complete. Furthermore, while all three germ layers respond to these patterning cues, it is not clear whether in zebrafish the outermost protective epithelium, the enveloping layer (EVL), is also patterned along the DV axis. Here, we have identified a transgenic line driving GFP under a crestin promoter, which specifically labels the dorsal domain of the EVL suggesting heterogeneity in the EVL across the DV axis. Our attempts to understand how the expression from this promoter fragment is regulated specifically in the dorsal domain, have unravelled potential novel players involved in early EVL and embryonic patterning. We show that along with Nodal signalling components, four proteins Sox11b, Sox19b, Snail1a and Max are involved in regulating the size of this EVL domain. However, Chordin-BMP signalling might be dispensable for the dorso-ventral patterning of the EVL. For the first time, this transgenic line unravels the heterogeneity in the EVL and will serve as an important tool in understanding the molecular basis of the DV patterning of the EVL.

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