The role of maternal VegT in establishing the primary germ layers in Xenopus embryos

Cell. 1998 Aug 21;94(4):515-24. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81592-5.


VegT is a T-box transcription factor whose mRNA is synthesized during oogenesis and localized in the vegetal hemisphere of the egg and early embryo. We show that maternally expressed VegT controls the pattern of primary germ layer specification in Xenopus embryos. Reduction of the maternal store completely alters the fates of different regions of the blastula so that animal cell fate is changed from epidermis and nervous system to epidermis only, equatorial cell fate is changed from mesoderm to ectoderm, and vegetal cell fate is changed from endoderm to mesoderm and ectoderm. Vegetal cells lose their capacity both to form endoderm and to release mesoderm-inducing signals. These results show that a single maternally expressed gene controls the patterning of the Xenopus blastula.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Body Patterning
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ectoderm / physiology
  • Embryonic Induction*
  • Epidermis / embryology
  • Female
  • Germ Layers / physiology*
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • T-Box Domain Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Xenopus / embryology
  • Xenopus Proteins*
  • Zygote / physiology


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • VegT protein, Xenopus
  • Xenopus Proteins