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Mesoderm induction in early Xenopus embryos by heparin-binding growth factors


In early embryonic development the basic body plan arises because cells in different regions become programmed to follow different developmental pathways. We have proposed that in the early amphibian embryo this process of regional specification arises from the action of three different inducing factors, or morphogens (refs 1–5 and Fig. 1), but we have not until now had any idea of their chemical nature. In this paper we report (1) that pure basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), at very low concentrations and with high specificity, closely mimics the effect of the ventrovegetal (W) signal and (2) that the transmission of the natural VV signal can be blocked by heparin, suggesting that it may be a heparin-binding factor such as bFGF.

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Slack, J., Darlington, B., Heath, J. et al. Mesoderm induction in early Xenopus embryos by heparin-binding growth factors. Nature 326, 197–200 (1987).

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