We have examined the timing of specification of the pronephric tubules and duct in Xenopus laevis by explanting the presumptive pronephric rudiments into blastula ectodermal wraps. We have established the time point of specification using the monoclonal antibody markers 3G8 and 4A6 which recognize antigens in pronephric tubule and duct, respectively. We show that, by experimental analysis in explants, kidney tubules are specified by stage 12.5 in the pronephric anlagen whereas pronephric duct is specified later between stages 13 and 14. Furthermore we show that signals involved in tubulogenesis of the pronephric tubules are normally received between stage 12.5 and 13. These experiments unambiguously pinpoint the timing of pronephros specification analyzed by explant experimentation to a developmental stage prior to that demonstrated for urodele amphibia, and provide an essential biological backdrop to a search for the molecular nature of pronephric inducers.
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