Dev Biol. 2005 Dec 1;288(1):40-59. Epub 2005 Nov 4.
Ectodermal placodes, from which many cranial sense organs and ganglia develop, arise from a common placodal primordium defined by Six1 expression. Here, we analyse placodal Six1 induction in Xenopus using microinjections and tissue grafts. We show that placodal Six1 induction occurs during neural plate and neural fold stages. Grafts of anterior neural plate but not grafts of cranial dorsolateral endomesoderm induce Six1 ectopically in belly ectoderm, suggesting that only the neural plate is sufficient for inducing Six1 in ectoderm. However, extirpation of either anterior neural plate or of cranial dorsolateral endomesoderm abolishes placodal Six1 expression indicating that both tissues are required for its induction. Elevating BMP-levels blocks placodal Six1 induction, whereas ectopic sources of BMP inhibitors expand placodal Six1 expression without inducing Six1 ectopically. This suggests that BMP inhibition is necessary but needs to cooperate with additional factors for Six1 induction. We show that FGF8, which is expressed in the anterior neural plate, can strongly induce ectopic Six1 in ventral ectoderm when combined with BMP inhibitors. In contrast, FGF8 knockdown abolishes placodal Six1 expression. This suggests that FGF8 is necessary and together with BMP inhibitors sufficient to induce placodal Six1 expression in cranial ectoderm, implicating FGF8 as a central component in generic placode induction.
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