LvNotch signaling plays a dual role in regulating the position of the ectoderm-endoderm boundary in the sea urchin embryo.
The molecular mechanisms guiding the positioning of the ectoderm-endoderm boundary along the animal-vegetal axis of the sea urchin embryo remain largely unknown. We report here a role for the sea urchin homolog of the Notch receptor, LvNotch, in mediating the position of this boundary. Overexpression of an activated form of LvNotch throughout the embryo shifts the ectoderm-endoderm boundary more animally along the animal-vegetal axis, whereas expression of a dominant negative form shifts the border vegetally. Mosaic experiments that target activated and dominant negative forms of LvNotch into individual blastomeres of the early embryo, combined with lineage analyses, further reveal that LvNotch signaling mediates the position of this boundary by distinct mechanisms within the animal versus vegetal portions of the embryo. In the animal region of the embryo, LvNotch signaling acts cell autonomously to promote endoderm formation more animally, while in the vegetal portion, LvNotch signaling also promotes the ectoderm-endoderm boundary more animally, but through a cell non-autonomous mechanism. We further demonstrate that vegetal LvNotch signaling controls the localization of nuclear beta-catenin at the ectoderm-endoderm boundary. Based on these results, we propose that LvNotch signaling promotes the position of the ectoderm-endoderm boundary more animally via two mechanisms: (1) a cell-autonomous function within the animal region of the embryo, and (2) a cell non-autonomous role in the vegetal region that regulates a signal(s) mediating ectoderm-endoderm position, possibly through the control of nuclear beta-catenin at the boundary.
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