Xu, P.F., Houssin, N., Ferri-Lagneau, K.F., Thisse, B., Thisse, C. (2014) Construction of a vertebrate embryo from two opposing morphogen gradients. Science (New York, N.Y.). 344:87-9.
Development of vertebrate embryos involves tightly regulated molecular and cellular processes that progressively instruct proliferating embryonic cells about their identity and behavior. Whereas numerous gene activities have been found to be essential during early embryogenesis, little is known about the minimal conditions and factors that would be sufficient to instruct pluripotent cells to organize the embryo. Here, we show that opposing gradients of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Nodal, two transforming growth factor family members that act as morphogens, are sufficient to induce molecular and cellular mechanisms required to organize, in vivo or in vitro, uncommitted cells of the zebrafish blastula animal pole into a well-developed embryo.