The Matured Eye of Xenopus laevis Tadpoles Produces Factors That Elicit a Lens-Forming Response in Embryonic Ectoderm

Jonathan J. Henry, Jillene M. Mittleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have indicated that the outer cornea can undergo transdifferentiation to form a lens in the tadpole larva of Xenopus laevis following removal of the original lens. This transformation appears to require an interaction with the neural retina. In the present study, we carried out a series of experiments to determine if the matured tadpole eye can also elicit lens formation in embryonic ectoderm. Labeled embryonic ectoderm was removed from the presumptive lens-forming region, or from the belly region (ventral ectoderm), at various stages of development (stages 11-19, gastrula to neural tube stages) and implanted into the eye cavity (posterior chamber) of advanced stage 52-55 tadpoles. After 3 days, we examined the tadpoles and their implanted tissues for lens cell formation using lens-specific antibodies. Implanted presumptive lens ectoderm differentiated lens cells in a large number of cases. The percentage of cases forming lens cells and the extent of morphological differentiation increased with increasing age of the implanted tissue. Implanted ventral ectoderm also formed lens cells, although at a reduced frequency and with limited morphological differentiation. These results indicate that the environment of the matured tadpole eye cavity stimulates lens cell formation in both presumptive lens and nonlens ectoderm. The development of the implanted tissues was compared to that found in previous studies where these tissues were cultured as explants or transplanted to lens-forming regions during early development and subjected to various periods of embryonic lens induction. Together, these findings suggest that the process of embryonic lens formation is related to that involved in transdifferentiation of the tadpole cornea during “lens regeneration.” However, the inductive effect of the matured tadpole eye is qualitatively different from that of the early period of embryonic lens induction and, while more intense, may be more closely related to that which takes place via the optic vesicle during the later phase of embryonic lens induction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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