Griffin, K.J.P. and Kimelman, D. (2002) One-Eyed Pinhead and Spadetail are essential for heart and somite formation. Nature cell biology. 4(10):821-825.
Mutant analysis in the zebrafish Danio rerio has demonstrated distinct developmental roles for the T-box transcription factor Spadetail (Spt) and the Nodal-receptor cofactor One-Eyed Pinhead (Oep) in the formation of mesoderm and endoderm. Here, we show that spt and oep genetically interact and are together essential for the formation of cardiac and somitic mesoderm. These two mesodermal defects are dependent on different effectors of Nodal signalling; cardiac mesoderm formation involves the mix-like transcription factor Bonnie and Clyde (Bon), whereas somitogenesis is dependent on a different pathway. Analysis of the somite defect in Zoep;spt embryos has provided insights into the control of somitic mesoderm formation by Spt, which was previously implicated in the regulation of cell adhesion and motility. We show that the failure to form somites in Zoep;spt embryos is independent of this and that Spt must have an additional function. We propose that the major role of Spt in somitogenesis is to promote the differentiation of presomitic mesoderm from tailbud progenitors by antagonizing progenitor- type gene expression and behaviour.