Heme metabolism enzymes are dynamically expressed during Xenopus embryonic development

Jianli Shi, Wenyan Mei, Jing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the key component of many hemoproteins (heme-containing proteins), heme is involved in a broad range of biological processes. Enzymes required for heme biosynthesis and degradation pathways are evolutionarily conserved. While heme metabolism has been studied extensively, the expression of heme metabolism enzymes during development has not been described. Here, we report that all heme biosynthases and two heme oxygenases, which initiate heme degradation, are dynamically expressed during Xenopus embryonic development. All heme synthases, with the exception of aminolevulinic acid synthase 2, are maternally expressed. At neurula stage, heme synthases are expressed in the developing neural tissue and in migrating neural crest cells. At the swimming tadpole stage, expression of heme synthases can be detected in multiple lineages, including eyes, neural crest cells, developing central nervous system, ventral blood island, pronephron, and pronephric tubule. Similar to heme synthases, heme oxygenases are expressed maternally. Zygotic expression of heme oxygenases is mainly restricted to the developing neural and neural crest lineages. Unlike heme synthases, heme oxygenases are not expressed in the ventral blood island and are expressed at a very low level in the pronephron and pronephric tubule. This indicates that heme metabolism may play important roles during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-263
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Heme oxygenases
  • Heme synthases
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Heme metabolism enzymes are dynamically expressed during Xenopus embryonic development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this