The Brachyury gene has a critical role in the formation of posterior mesoderm and notochord in vertebrate development. A recent study showed that Brachyury is also responsible for the formation of the left-right (L-R) axis in mouse and zebrafish. However, the role of Brachyury in L-R axis specification is still elusive. Here, it is demonstrated that Brachyury is involved in L-R specification of the Xenopus laevis embryo and regulates expression of Zic3, which controls the L-R specification process. Overexpression of Xenopus Brachyury (Xbra) and dominant-negative type Xbra (Xbra-EnR) altered the orientation of heart and gut looping, concomitant with disturbed laterality of nodal-related 1 (Xnr1) and Pitx2 expression, both of which are normally expressed in the left lateral plate mesoderm. Furthermore, activation of inducible type Xbra (Xbra-GR) induces Zic3 expression within 20 min. These results suggest that a role of Brachyury in L-R specification may be the direct regulation of Zic3 expression.
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