An obligatory caravanserai stop on the silk road to neural induction: inhibition of BMP/GDF signaling

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2006 Feb;17(1):117-32. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2005.11.013. Epub 2006 Mar 3.


Work in Xenopus laevis produced the first molecular explanation for neural specification, the default model, where inactivation of the BMP pathway in ectodermal cells changes fates from epidermal to neural. This review covers the present status of our understanding of neural specification, with emphasis on Xenopus, but including relevant facts in other model systems. While recent experiments have increased the complexity of the molecular picture, they have also provided additional support for the default model and the central position of the BMP pathway. We conclude that synergy between accumulated knowledge and technical progress will maintain Xenopus at the forefront of research in neural development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Embryonic Induction*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis / anatomy & histology
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases