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Discovered а new signaling mechanism of brain development regulation

A new signaling mechanism regulating brain development was discovered by group of scientists from Laboratory of molecular bases of embryogenesis of M.M. Shemyakin and Yu. A. Ovchinnikov Institute of bioorganic chemistry. The article about it was published in Biology Open journal.


All vertebrates from frogs to humans undergo the same stages of embryo development, that’s why mechanism of development regulation is rather universal. Germinal layer of ectoderm folds into the neural tube from which subsequently the brain develops. A team with the head of PhD, professor Andrew Zaraiskiy found that cells from the anterior border of the neural plate with the help of small GTPase Ras-dva1 thansmit the signal to the genes Ag1, Agr2 and Ras-dva1, situated in the cells of the head ectoderm. In turn the proteins, encoded by Ag1 and Agr2 (genes of Agr family), stimulate the release of fibroblast growth factor regulator Fgf8 and early brain development regulator- transcription factor FoxG1. This mechanism has been confirmed by a number of experiments on Xenopus laevis embryos with switching off each gene from chain of interactions, that resulted in blocking of other genes involved in this chain, and disruption of brain development.

Fig. 1. Scheme of the new signaling mechanism regulating brain development in Xenopus leavis.

Xenopus laevis was chosen as a model for the experiment not occasionally. Its embryos reach a size of 1 millimeter - which is much greater than the embryos of other vertebrates, that’s why scientists can watch all stages of brain development. Further, frog embryos, in contrast to mammalian embryos for example develop outside of the parent’s organism and thus readily available for a variety of experimental manipulations. Discovered mechanism of signals exchanging on the anterior border of the neural plate will not only help fill the gap in knowledges about the molecular basis of early brain development, but also as scientists assume, will contribute to the understanding of another important phenomenon - regeneration. The point is that, as it now appears, molecular cascade, comprising signaling bundle Agr / Ras-dva, regulates not only early brain development in amphibians and fish, but also the regeneration of large appendages of the body - the limbs and fins.

april 23, 2015