Gene switching at Xenopus laevis metamorphosis

Dev Biol. 2010 Feb 15;338(2):117-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.10.041. Epub 2009 Nov 5.


During the climax of amphibian metamorphosis many tadpole organs remodel. The different remodeling strategies are controlled by thyroid hormone (TH). The liver, skin, and tail fibroblasts shut off tadpole genes and activate frog genes in the same cell without DNA replication. We refer to this as "gene switching". In contrast, the exocrine pancreas and the intestinal epithelium dedifferentiate to a progenitor state and then redifferentiate to the adult cell type. Tadpole and adult globin are not present in the same cell. Switching from red cells containing tadpole-specific globin to those with frog globin in the liver occurs at a progenitor cell stage of development and is preceded by DNA replication. Red cell switching is the only one of these remodeling strategies that resembles a stem cell mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Replication
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Developmental*
  • Globins
  • Larva
  • Liver
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / genetics*
  • Stem Cells
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Globins