Saude, L., Woolley, K., Martin, P., Driever, W., and Stemple, D.L. (2000) Axis-inducing activities and cell fates of the zebrafish organizer. Development (Cambridge, England). 127(16):3407-3417.
We have investigated axis-inducing activities and cellular fates of the zebrafish organizer using a new method of transplantation that allows the transfer of both deep and superficial organizer tissues. Previous studies have demonstrated that the zebrafish embryonic shield possesses classically defined dorsal organizer activity. When we remove the morphologically defined embryonic shield, embryos recover and are completely normal by 24 hours post-fertilization. We find that removal of the morphological shield does not remove all goosecoid- and floating head-expressing cells, suggesting that the morphological shield does not comprise the entire organizer region. Complete removal of the embryonic shield and adjacent marginal tissue, however, leads to a loss of both prechordal plate and notochord. In addition, these embryos are cyclopean, show a significant loss of floor plate and primary motorneurons and display disrupted somite patterning. Motivated by apparent discrepancies in the literature we sought to test the axis-inducing activity of the embryonic shield. A previous study suggested that the shield is capable of only partial axis induction, specifically being unable to induce the most anterior neural tissues. Contrary to this study, we find shields can induce complete secondary axes when transplanted into host ventral germ-ring. In induced secondary axes donor tissue contributes to notochord, prechordal plate and floor plate. When explanted shields are divided into deep and superficial fragments and separately transplanted we find that deep tissue is able to induce the formation of ectopic axes with heads but lacking posterior tissues. We conclude that the deep tissue included in our transplants is important for proper head formation.