Early zygotic expression of transcription factors and signal molecules in fully dissociated embryonic cells of ciona intestinalis: A microarray analysis

Takeshi Noda, Mayuko Hamada, Makoto Hamaguchi, Manabu Fujie, Nori Satoh

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Specification of early embryonic cells of animals is established by maternally provided factors and interactions of neighboring cells. The present study addressed a question of autonomous versus non-autonomous specification of embryonic cells by using the Ciona intestinalis embryo, in particular the genetic cascade of zygotic expression of transcription factor genes responsible for notochord specification. To examine this issue, we combined the classic experiment of continuous dissociation of embryonic cells with the modern technique of oligonucleotide-based microarrays. We measured early zygotic expression of 389 core transcription factors genes and 118 major signal molecule genes in embryonic cells that were fully dissociated from the first cleavage. Our results indicated that even if cells are free from contact with neighbors, the major transcription factor genes that have primary roles in embryonic cell specification commence their zygotic expression at the same time as in normal embryos. Dissociation of embryonic cells did not affect extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) activity. Although normal embryos treated with U0126 failed to express Bra and Twist-like-1, dissociated embryonic cells treated with U0126 expressed the genes. These results are discussed in relation to the grade of autonomous versus non-autonomous genetic cascades that are responsible for the specification of early Ciona embryonic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-655
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopment Growth and Differentiation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Ciona intestinalis
  • Fully dissociated embryonic cells
  • Signal molecule genes
  • Transcription factor genes
  • Zygotic expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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