Exposure of isolated Xenopus animal pole ectoderm to the XTC mesoderm-inducing factor (XTC-MIF) causes the tissue to undergo gastrulation-like movements. In this paper, we take advantage of this observation to investigate the control of various aspects of gastrulation in Xenopus. Blastomeres derived from induced animal pole regions are able, like marginal zone cells, but unlike control animal pole blastomeres, to spread and migrate on a fibronectin-coated surface. Dispersed animal pole cells are also able to respond to XTC-MIF in this way; this is one of the few mesoderm-specific responses to induction that has been observed in single cells. The ability of induced animal pole cells to spread on fibronectin is abolished by the peptide GRGDSP. However, the elongation of intact explants is unaffected by this peptide. This may indicate that fibronectin-mediated cell migration is not required for convergent extension. We have investigated the molecular basis of XTC-MIF-induced gastrulation-like movements by measuring rates of synthesis of fibronectin and of the integrin beta 1 chain in induced and control explants. No significant differences were observed, and this suggests that gastrulation is not initiated simply by control of synthesis of these molecules. In future work, we intend to investigate synthesis of other integrin subunits and to examine possible post-translational modifications to fibronectin and the integrins.

This content is only available via PDF.