The role of early lineage in GABAergic and glutamatergic cell fate determination inXenopus laevis

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Proper functioning of the adult nervous system is critically dependent on neurons adopting the correct neurotransmitter phenotype during early development. Whereas the importance of cell-cell communication in fate determination is well documented for a number of neurotransmitter phenotypes, the contributions made by early lineage to this process remain less clear. This is particularly true for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic and glutamatergic neurons, which are present as the most abundant inhibitory and excitatory neurons, respectively, in the central nervous system of all vertebrates. In the present study, we have investigated the role of early lineage in the determination of these two neurotransmitter phenotypes by constructing a fate map of GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons for the 32-cell stage Xenopus embryo with the goal of determining whether early lineage influences the acquisition of these two neurotransmitter phenotypes. To examine these phenotypes, we have cloned xGAT-1, a molecular marker for the GABAergic phenotype in Xenopus, and described its expression pattern over the course of development. Although we have identified isolated examples of a blastomere imparting a statistically significant bias, when taken together, our results suggest that blastomere lineage does not impart a widespread bias for subsequent GABAergic or glutamatergic fate determination. In addition, the fate map presented here suggests a general dorsal-anterior to ventral-posterior patterning progression of the nervous system for the 32-cell stage Xenopus embryo.

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