A model for investigating developmental eye repair inXenopus laevis

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Abstract

Vertebrate eye development is complex and requires early interactions between neuroectoderm and surface ectoderm during embryogenesis. In the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, individual eye tissues such as the retina and lens can undergo regeneration. However, it has been reported that removal of either the specified eye field at the neurula stage or the eye during tadpole stage does not induce replacement. Here we describe a model for investigating Xenopus developmental eye repair. We found that tailbud embryos can readily regrow eyes after surgical removal of over 83% of the specified eye and lens tissues. The regrown eye reached a comparable size to the contralateral control by 5 days and overall animal development was normal. It contained the expected complement of eye cell types (including the pigmented epithelium, retina and lens), and is connected to the brain. Our data also demonstrate that apoptosis, an early mechanism that regulates appendage regeneration, is also required for eye regrowth. Treatment with apoptosis inhibitors (M50054 or NS3694) blocked eye regrowth by inhibiting caspase activation. Together, our findings indicate that frog embryos can undergo successful eye repair after considerable tissue loss and reveals a required role for apoptosis in this process. Furthermore, this Xenopus model allows for rapid comparisons of productive eye repair and developmental pathways. It can also facilitate the molecular dissection of signaling mechanisms necessary for initiating repair.

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