Dev Biol. 2022 Nov 2:S0012-1606(22)00202-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2022.10.013. Online ahead of print
Wnt11 family proteins are ligands that activate a type of Dishevelled-mediated, non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway. Loss of function causes defects in gastrulation and/or anterior-posterior axis extension in all vertebrates. Non-mammalian vertebrate genomes encode two Wnt11 family proteins whose distinct functions have been unclear. We knocked down Wnt11b and Wnt11, separately and together, in Xenopus laevis. Single morphants exhibited very similar phenotypes of delayed blastopore closure, but they had different phenotypes during the tailbud period. In response to their very similar gastrulation phenotypes, we chose to characterize dual morphants. Using dark field illuminated time-lapse imaging and kymograph analysis, we identified a failure of dorsal blastopore lip maturation that correlated with slower blastopore closure and failure to internalize the endoderm at the dorsal blastopore lip. We connected these externally visible phenotypes to cellular events in the internal tissues by imaging intact fixed embryos stained for anillin and microtubules. We found that the initial extension of the archenteron is correlated with blastopore lip maturation, and archenteron extension is dramatically disrupted by decreased Wnt11 family signaling. We were aided in our interpretation of the immunofluorescence by the novel, membrane proximal location of the cleavage furrow protein anillin in the epithelium of the blastopore lip and early archenteron.
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