1. Developmental Biology
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FGF mediated MAPK and PI3K/Akt Signals make distinct contributions to pluripotency and the establishment of Neural Crest

  1. Lauren Geary
  2. Carole LaBonne  Is a corresponding author
  1. Northwestern University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 9
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e33845 doi: 10.7554/eLife.33845


Early vertebrate embryos possess cells with the potential to generate all embryonic cell types. While this pluripotency is progressively lost as cells become lineage restricted, Neural Crest cells retain broad developmental potential. Here, we provide novel insights into signals essential for both pluripotency and neural crest formation in Xenopus. We show that FGF signaling controls a subset of genes expressed by pluripotent blastula cells, and find a striking switch in the signaling cascades activated by FGF signaling as cells lose pluripotency and commence lineage restriction. Pluripotent cells display and require Map Kinase signaling, whereas PI3 Kinase/Akt signals increase as developmental potential is restricted, and are required for transit to certain lineage restricted states. Importantly, retaining a high Map Kinase/low Akt signaling profile is essential for establishing Neural Crest stem cells. These findings shed important light on the signal-mediated control of pluripotency and the molecular mechanisms governing genesis of Neural Crest.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Lauren Geary

    Department of Molecular Biosciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Carole LaBonne

    Department of Molecular Biosciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6001-7179


National Institutes of Health (R01GM116538)

  • Carole LaBonne

National Institutes of Health (T32GM008061)

  • Carole LaBonne

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to a protocol approved by the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols at Northwestern University (Protocol # IS00001963 ).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Marianne Bronner, California Institute of Technology, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: November 24, 2017
  2. Accepted: January 15, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 19, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 30, 2018 (version 2)


© 2018, Geary & LaBonne

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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