Gastrulation entails specification and formation of three embryonic germ layers-ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm-thereby establishing the basis for the future body plan. In zebrafish embryos, germ layer specification occurs during blastula and early gastrula stages (Ho & Kimmel, 1993), a period when the main morphogenetic movements underlying gastrulation are initiated. Hence, the signals driving progenitor cell fate specification, such as Nodal ligands from the TGF-β family, also play key roles in regulating germ layer progenitor cell segregation (Carmany-Rampey & Schier, 2001; David & Rosa, 2001; Feldman et al., 2000; Gritsman et al., 1999; Keller et al., 2008). In this review, we summarize and discuss the main signaling pathways involved in germ layer progenitor cell fate specification and segregation, specifically focusing on recent advances in understanding the interplay between mesoderm and endoderm specification and the internalization movements at the onset of zebrafish gastrulation.
Keywords: Cell fate specification; Cell migration; FGF and GPCR signaling; Gastrulation; Internalization; Nodal; Zebrafish.
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