Using Xenopus tropicalis, we present the first analysis of the developmental effects that result from knocking down the function of the three Cdx genes present in the typical vertebrate genome. Knockdowns of individual Cdx genes lead to a similar range of posterior defects; compound Cdx knockdowns result in increasingly severe posterior truncations, accompanied by posterior shifts and reduction of 5' Hox gene expression. We provide evidence that Cdx and Wnt3A genes are components of a positive feedback loop operating in the posterior axis. We show that Cdx function is required during later, but not early stages of development, for correct regional specification of the endoderm and morphogenesis of the gut. Our results support the hypothesis that during amphibian development the overall landscape of Cdx activity in the embryo is more important than the specific function of individual Cdx proteins.
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.