From presumptive ectoderm to neural cells in an amphibian

A. M. Duprat, J. P. Saint-Jeannet, F. Pituello, S. Huang, S. Boudannaoui, P. Kan, L. Gualandris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


As an immediate consequence of neural induction during gastrlation, some neuroectodermal cells acquire the ability to develop a number of specific neuronal and astroglial features, without requiring subsequent chordamesodermal cues. Thus, cholinergic, dopaminergic, noradrenergic, gabaergic, somatostatinergic, enkephalinergic, etc. traits are expressed in cultures of neural plate and neural fold isolated from amphibian late gastrulae immediately after induction and cultured in a defined medium. These results strongly suggest that at the late gastrula stage, the neural precursor population does not yet constitute a homogeneous set of cells. It was of interest to know the origin of this heterogeneity. Is it a direct result of the process of neural induction itself, stochastic phenomena being involved or not at the cellular level, or does it reflect a pre-existing heterogeneity in the presumptive ectoderm? At the early gastrula state, presumptive ectoderm can be neuralized consecutively to its dissociation into single cells. Using this experimental model, we have demonstrated by means of immunological probes that neuralized presumptive ectodermal cells, without any intervention of the chordamesoderm (natural inducing tissue), can develop autonomously into glial and neuronal lineages. These data suggest the existence of diverse predispositions of presumptive ectodermal cells. Competent ectoderm seems to be a heterogeneous structure with cells presenting distinct neural predispositions that can emerge as a consequence of a permissive inductive signal without real specificity (such as a target tissue dissociation). Moreover, such a differentiated neuronal population includes neurons of the GABAergic and enkephalinergic phenotypes but not of the cholinergic, catecholaminergic, somatostatinergic, etc. phenotypes. These data show that the developmental program of ectodermal cells induced without interaction with the developmental program of ectodermal cells induced whitout interaction with the chordamesoderm appears restricted compared to the naturally induced ectoderm. Experiments are now under way to analyze such sequential neural events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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