Yamashita, S., Miyagi, C., Carmany-Rampey, A., Shimizu, T., Fujii, R., Schier, A.F., and Hirano, T. (2002) Stat3 controls cell movements during zebrafish gastrulation. Developmental Cell. 2(3):363-375.
Vertebrate axis formation requires both the correct specification of cell fates and the coordination of gastrulation movements. We report that the zebrafish signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is activated on the dorsal side by the maternal Wnt/-catenin pathway. Zebrafish embryos lacking Stat3 activity display abnormal cell movements during gastrulation, resulting in a mispositioned head and a shortened anterior-posterior axis, but show no defects in early cell fate specification. Time course analysis, cell tracing, and transplantation experiments revealed that Stat3 activity is required cell autonomously for the anterior migration of dorsal mesendodermal cells and non-cell autonomously for the convergence of neighboring paraxial cells. These results reveal a role for Stat3 in controlling cell movements during gastrulation.