Cheng, A.M.S., Thisse, B., Thisse, C., and Wright, C.V. (2000) The Lefty-related factor Xatv acts as a feedback inhibitor of Nodal signaling in mesoderm induction and L-R axis development in Xenopus. Development (Cambridge, England). 127(5):1049-1061.
In mouse, lefty genes play critical roles in the left-right (L-R) axis determination pathway. Here, we characterize the Xenopus lefty-related factor antivin (Xatv). Xatv expression is first observed in the marginal zone early during gastrulation, later becoming restricted to axial tissues. During tailbud stages, axial expression resolves to the neural tube floorplate, hypochord, and (transiently) the notochord anlage, and is joined by dynamic expression in the left lateral plate mesoderm (LPM) and left dorsal endoderm. An emerging paradigm in embryonic patterning is that secreted antagonists regulate the activity of intercellular signaling factors, thereby modulating cell fate specification. Xatv expression is rapidly induced by dorsoanterior-type mesoderm inducers such as activin or Xnr2. Xatv is not an inducer itself, but antagonizes both Xnr2 and activin. Together with its expression pattern, this suggests that Xatv functions during gastrulation in a negative feedback loop with Xnrs to affect the amount and/or character of mesoderm induced. Our data also provide insights into the way that lefty/nodal signals interact in the initiation of differential L-R morphogenesis. Right-sided misexpression of Xnr1 (endogenously expressed in the left LPM) induces bilateral Xatv expression. Left-sided Xatv overexpression suppresses Xnr1/XPitx2 expression in the left LPM, and leads to severely disturbed visceral asymmetry, suggesting that active 'left' signals are critical for L-R axis determination in frog embryos. We propose that the induction of lefty/Xatv in the left LPM by nodal/Xnr1 provides an efficient self-regulating mechanism to downregulate nodal/Xnr1 expression and ensure a transient 'left' signal within the embryo.