Inductive interactions in the spatial and temporal restriction of lens-forming potential in embryonic ectoderm of Xenopus laevis

Jonathan J. Henry, Robert M. Grainger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of lens cell determination in amphibians is currently viewed as one involving a series of inductive interactions. On the basis of previous investigations, these interactions are thought to begin during gastrulation when the presumptive foregut endoderm and then the heart mesoderm come into contact with the presumptive lens ectoderm. This earlier period of induction is followed by the later interaction of the optic vesicle with the lens-forming ectoderm. Transplantation experiments were performed to determine the relative significance of the early and later periods of induction in the process of lens cell determination in the anuran Xenopus laevis. Various ectodermal tissues were transplanted either into the lens-forming region of open neural plate stage host embryos or over the newly formed optic vesicle of later neurula stage embryos. All transplanted tissues were labeled with the intracellular marker horseradish peroxidase to assess the exact origins of any induced lens structures. The results indicate that all nonneural ectodermal tissues have some lens-forming potential early during gastrulation; however, this potential is restricted to the lens-forming region, and perhaps nearby regions, later in development during the time of neurulation. Furthermore, the results show that the optic vesicle is not a substantial inductor of the lens in tissues that have not been previously exposed to the earlier series of inductive interactions that take place during gastrulation and neurulation. Since the optic vesicle does not appear to be a sufficient inductor of the lens, these earlier inductive interactions are, therefore, essential in the process of lens cell determination in Xenopus. These earlier inductive interactions lead to a steady increase in what may be called a lens-forming bias in the presumptive lens ectoderm during this period of development. The eventual loss in the ability of nonlens ventral ectoderm to respond to these lens inductors is presumably the result of other determinative processes that occur in this tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-214
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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