Developmental basis of pronephric defects in Xenopus body plan phenotypes

Dev Biol. 1999 Nov 15;215(2):233-42. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1999.9476.


We have used monoclonal antibodies that recognize the pronephric tubules or pronephric duct to explore the induction of the embryonic kidney in developing Xenopus embryos. Morphogenesis of the pronephros was examined in UV-ventralized and lithium-dorsalized embryos. We find that the pronephric tubules are present in all but the strongest UV-induced phenotypes, but absent from relatively moderate lithium phenotypes. Interestingly the pronephric duct, which develops from the ventroposterior portion of the pronephric anlage, is missing from more of the mild UV phenotypes than are pronephric tubules. The loss of the capacity to form pronephroi in UV-ventralized embryos is caused by the loss of tissues capable of inducing the pronephric mesoderm, as marginal zone explants from ventralized embryos are still competent to respond to pronephric-inductive signals. Explant recombination experiments indicate that the tissue responsible for both the loss of pronephroi in UV-ventralized embryos and the induction of pronephroi during normal development is the anterior somites. The absence of pronephroi in relatively mild lithium phenotypes has a developmental basis different from that of the UV phenotype, as explants from lithium-treated embryos are effective inducers of pronephroi in recombinants with competent mesoderm, even though they themselves do not form pronephroi in isolation. Together these data indicate that dorsal tissues, especially the anterior somites, are responsible for the establishment of the intermediate mesoderm and the induction of the embryonic kidneys and that even mild dorsalization destroys the capacity to form cells competent to receive this signal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Lithium / pharmacology
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Nephrons / abnormalities
  • Nephrons / embryology*
  • Phenotype
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Xenopus / embryology*


  • Lithium