Coordination of cell polarity during Xenopus gastrulation

PLoS One. 2008 Feb 13;3(2):e1600. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001600.


Cell polarity is an essential feature of animal cells contributing to morphogenesis. During Xenopus gastrulation, it is known that chordamesoderm cells are polarized and intercalate each other allowing anterior-posterior elongation of the embryo proper by convergent extension (CE). Although it is well known that the cellular protrusions at both ends of polarized cells exert tractive force for intercalation and that PCP pathway is known to be essential for the cell polarity, little is known about what triggers the cell polarization and what the polarization causes to control intracellular events enabling the intercalation that leads to the CE. In our research, we used EB3 (end-binding 3), a member of +TIPs that bind to the plus end of microtubule (MT), to visualize the intracellular polarity of chordamesoderm cells during CE to investigate the trigger of the establishment of cell polarity. We found that EB3 movement is polarized in chordamesoderm cells and that the notochord-somite tissue boundary plays an essential role in generating the cell polarity. This polarity was generated before the change of cell morphology and the polarized movement of EB3 in chordamesoderm cells was also observed near the boundary between the chordamesoderm tissue and naïve ectoderm tissue or lateral mesoderm tissues induced by a low concentration of nodal mRNA. These suggest that definitive tissue separation established by the distinct levels of nodal signaling is essential for the chordamesodermal cells to acquire mediolateral cell polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Gastrulation*
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Morphogenesis
  • Notochord
  • Somites
  • Xenopus / embryology


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins