The role of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) in neural induction is controversial [1,2]. Although FGF signalling has been implicated in early neural induction [3-5], a late role for FGFs in neural development is not well established. Indeed, it is thought that FGFs induce a precursor cell fate but are not able to induce neuronal differentiation or late neural markers [6-8]. It is also not known whether the same or distinct FGFs and FGF receptors (FGFRs) mediate the effects on mesoderm and neural development. We report that Xenopus embryos expressing ectopic FGF-8 develop an abundance of ectopic neurons that extend to the ventral, non-neural, ectoderm, but show no ectopic or enhanced notochord or somitic markers. FGF-8 inhibited the expression of an early mesoderm marker, Xbra, in contrast to eFGF, which induced ectopic Xbra robustly and neuronal differentiation weakly. The effect of FGF-8 on neurogenesis was blocked by dominant-negative FGFR-4a (ΔXFGFR-4a). Endogenous neurogenesis was also blocked by ΔXFGFR-4a and less efficiently by dominant-negative FGFR-1 (XFD), suggesting that it depends preferentially on signalling through FGFR-4a. The results suggest that FGF-8 and FGFR-4a signalling promotes neurogenesis and, unlike other FGFs, FGF-8 interferes with mesoderm induction. Thus, different FGFs show specificity for mesoderm induction versus neurogenesis and this may be mediated, at least in part, by the use of distinct receptors.
Hardcastle, Z., Chalmers, A. D., & Papalopulu, N. (2000). FGF-8 stimulates neuronal differentiation through FGFR-4a and interferes with mesoderm induction in Xenopus embryos. Current Biology, 10(23), 1511–1514. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-9822(00)00825-3