Expression of the Xenopus homolog of the mammalian transcription factor AP-2alpha (XAP-2) is activated throughout the animal hemisphere shortly after the midblastula transition, and becomes restricted to prospective epidermis by the end of gastrulation, under the control of BMP signal modulation. Elevated expression in the future neural crest region begins at this time. Ectopic expression of XAP-2 can restore transcription of epidermal genes in neuralized ectoderm, both in ectodermal explants and in the intact embryo. Likewise, loss of XAP-2 function, accomplished by injection of antisense oligonucleotides or by overexpression of antimorphic XAP-2 derivatives, leads to loss of epidermal and gain of neural gene expression. These treatments also result in gastrulation failure. Thus, AP-2 is a critical regulator of ectodermal determination that is required for normal epidermal development and morphogenesis in the frog embryo.
(c)2002 Elsevier Science (USA).