Roles for Xenopus aquaporin-3b (aqp3.L) during gastrulation: Fibrillar fibronectin and tissue boundary establishment in the dorsal margin
Jennifer Forecki, Daniel J. Van Antwerp, Sean M. Lujan, Christa S. Merzdorf
Aquaporins and aquaglyceroporins are a large family of membrane channel proteins that allow rapid movement of water and small, uncharged solutes into and out of cells along concentration gradients. Recently, aquaporins have been gaining recognition for more complex biological roles than the regulation of cellular osmotic homeostasis. We have identified a specific expression pattern for Xenopus aqp3b (also called aqp3.L) during gastrulation, where it is localized to the sensorial (deep) layer of the blastocoel roof and dorsal margin. Interference with aqp3b expression resulted in loss of fibrillar fibronectin matrix in Brachet's cleft at the dorsal marginal zone, but not on the free surface of the blastocoel. Detailed observation showed that the absence of fibronectin matrix correlated with compromised border integrities between involuted mesendoderm and noninvoluted ectoderm in the marginal zone. Knockdown of aqp3b also led to delayed closure of the blastopore, suggesting defects in gastrulation movements. Radial intercalation was not affected in aqp3b morphants, while the data presented are consistent with impeded convergent extension movements of the dorsal mesoderm in response to loss of aqp3b. Our emerging model suggests that aqp3b is part of a mechanism that promotes proper interaction between cells and the extracellular matrix, thereby playing a critical role in gastrulation.
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