Neuronal determination without cell division in Xenopus embryos

Neuron. 1991 Apr;6(4):499-515. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(91)90053-3.


Cell division in the Xenopus CNS was blocked by incubating embryos in a mixture of the DNA synthesis inhibitors hydroxyurea and aphidicolin. Surprisingly, embryos treated at the beginning of gastrulation proceeded normally through neurulation, neural tube closure, and CNS subdivision. Thus, cell division is not critical for neural induction or early morphogenetic events in the CNS. Neuroblasts in treated embryos differentiated into neurons of many classes, indicating that cellular determination in the CNS can be dissociated from lineage and birth date. Axonal tracts and embryonic reflexes also developed. The remarkable amount of normal CNS development that occurs in these animals may be explained by a series of sequential inductions that are largely independent of cell proliferation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphidicolin
  • Axons / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / embryology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects
  • Embryonic Development
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology


  • Diterpenes
  • Aphidicolin
  • Hydroxyurea