In the zebrafish embryo, cells fated to give rise to the rostral brain move in a concerted fashion and retain tissue coherence during morphogenesis. We demonstrate here that Otx proteins have a dramatic effect on cell–cell interactions when expressed ectopically in the zebrafish embryo. Injection of zebrafish Otx1 or Drosophila otd RNAs into a single cell at the 16-cell stage results in aggregation of descendants of the injected cell. The Otx/Otd homeodomain is necessary for aggregation and appears to be sufficient for the effect when substituted for the homeodomain of an unrelated homeodomain protein. When cells containing injected zOtx1 RNA are limited to the area that is normally fated to become the anterior brain and neural retina, the induced aggregates contribute to anterior brain and retina tissues. In many other embryonic regions, which do not express endogenous zOtx1, the aggregates appear to be incompatible with normal development and do not integrate into developing tissues. By using an activatable Otx1–glutocorticoid receptor fusion protein that results in the stimulation of cell association, we demonstrate that cell aggregates can form as a result of Otx1 activity even after gastrulation is completed. Time-lapse analysis of cell movements show that cell aggregation occurs with only a slight inhibition of the rate of convergence. These results suggest that promotion of cell adhesion or mediation of cell repulsion may be one of the normal functions of the Otx proteins in the establishment of the anterior brain.
Developmental Biology – Elsevier
Published: Jul 15, 2000
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