Talk:Embryology History - John Gurdon

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2019, August 25) Embryology Embryology History - John Gurdon. Retrieved from


Deficient induction response in a Xenopus nucleocytoplasmic hybrid

PLoS Biol. 2011 Nov;9(11):e1001197. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Narbonne P, Simpson DE, Gurdon JB. Source The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, The Henry Wellcome Building of Cancer and Developmental Biology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Incompatibilities between the nucleus and the cytoplasm of sufficiently distant species result in developmental arrest of hybrid and nucleocytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) embryos. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their lethality, including problems in embryonic genome activation (EGA) and/or nucleo-mitochondrial interactions. However, conclusive identification of the causes underlying developmental defects of cybrid embryos is still lacking. We show here that while over 80% of both Xenopus laevis and Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis same-species androgenetic haploids develop to the swimming tadpole stage, the androgenetic cybrids formed by the combination of X. laevis egg cytoplasm and X. tropicalis sperm nucleus invariably fail to gastrulate properly and never reach the swimming tadpole stage. In spite of this arrest, these cybrids show quantitatively normal EGA and energy levels at the stage where their initial gastrulation defects are manifested. The nucleocytoplasmic incompatibility between these two species instead results from a combination of factors, including a reduced emission of induction signal from the vegetal half, a decreased sensitivity of animal cells to induction signals, and differences in a key embryonic protein (Xbra) concentration between the two species, together leading to inefficient induction and defective convergence-extension during gastrulation. Indeed, increased exposure to induction signals and/or Xbra signalling partially rescues the induction response in animal explants and whole cybrid embryos. Altogether, our study demonstrates that the egg cytoplasm of one species may not support the development promoted by the nucleus of another species, even if this nucleus does not interfere with the cytoplasmic/maternal functions of the egg, while the egg cytoplasm is also capable of activating the genome of that nucleus. Instead, our results provide evidence that inefficient signalling and differences in the concentrations of key proteins between species lead to developmental defects in cybrids. Finally, they show that the incompatibilities of cybrids can be corrected by appropriate treatments.

PMID 22131902

Nuclear actin polymerization is required for transcriptional reprogramming of Oct4 by oocytes

Genes Dev. 2011 May 1;25(9):946-58.

Miyamoto K, Pasque V, Jullien J, Gurdon JB. Source Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QN, United Kingdom.


Amphibian oocytes can rapidly and efficiently reprogram the transcription of transplanted somatic nuclei. To explore the factors and mechanisms involved, we focused on nuclear actin, an especially abundant component of the oocyte's nucleus (the germinal vesicle). The existence and significance of nuclear actin has long been debated. Here, we found that nuclear actin polymerization plays an essential part in the transcriptional reactivation of the pluripotency gene Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1). We also found that an actin signaling protein, Toca-1, enhances Oct4 reactivation by regulating nuclear actin polymerization. Toca-1 overexpression has an effect on the chromatin state of transplanted nuclei, including the enhanced binding of nuclear actin to gene regulatory regions. This is the first report showing that naturally stored actin in an oocyte nucleus helps transcriptional reprogramming in a polymerization-dependent manner.

PMID 21536734


Nuclear transplantation from stably transfected cultured cells of Xenopus

Int J Dev Biol. 1996 Apr;40(2):441-51.

Chan AP, Gurdon JB.

Source Wellcome/CRC Institute, University of Cambridge, England.


By nuclear transplantation we have generated embryos from enucleated Xenopus eggs and nuclei of stably transfected Xenopus cell lines. We have devised a novel method of transplantation in which cell permeabilization is controlled by a temperature effect on streptolysin O-treated cells. This method is easier and quicker to operate than the conventional cell rupture technique. Single nuclei from cell lines transfected with the lacZ reporter gene were transplanted to Xenopus eggs in which the egg nuclei were destroyed by UV irradiation. We show that the lacZ transgene is transmitted from donor cells to nuclear transplant embryos. Expression of the lacZ transgene has been controlled by the elongation factor 1-alpha promoter (Krieg et al., Dev. Biol. 133: 93-100, 1989). In the nuclear transplant embryos, beta-galactosidase transcripts are expressed at the expected time of development, that is after the mid-blastula transition. In addition, we show that early embryo-specific genes, not expressed in cultured cells, are normally activated in nuclear transplant embryos. Therefore, expression of these genes can be used to monitor the effects of transfected test genes. Although most of the nuclear transplant embryos do not develop beyond the gastrula stage, explants of equatorial tissue from these embryos can undergo differentiation characterized by the expression of muscle and notochord markers. The use of nuclear transplantation, as described here, provides a means of avoiding the mosaic expression of DNA or mRNA injected into Xenopus eggs.

PMID 8793614


A description of the technique for nuclear transplantation in Xenopus laevis

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1960 Dec;8:437-44.


PMID 13726553