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1.  Myo/Nog Cell Regulation of Bone Morphogenetic Protein Signaling in the Blastocyst is Essential for Normal Morphogenesis and Striated Muscle Lineage Specification 
Developmental biology  2011;359(1):12-25.
Cells that express MyoD mRNA, the G8 antigen and the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) inhibitor noggin (Nog) are present in the epiblast before gastrulation. Ablation of “Myo/Nog” cells in the blastocyst results in an expansion of canonical BMP signaling and prevents the expression of noggin and follistatin before and after the onset of gastrulation. Once eliminated in the epiblast, they are neither replaced nor compensated for as development progresses. Older embryos lacking Myo/Nog cells exhibit severe axial malformations. Although Wnts and Sonic hedgehog are expressed in ablated embryos, skeletal muscle progenitors expressing Pax3 are missing in the somites. Pax3+ cells do emerge adjacent to Wnt3a+ cells in vitro; however, few undergo skeletal myogenesis. Ablation of Myo/Nog cells also results in ectopically placed cardiac progenitors and cardiomyocytes in the somites. Reintroduction of Myo/Nog cells into the epiblast of ablated embryos restores normal patterns of BMP signaling, morphogenesis and skeletal myogenesis, and inhibits the expression of cardiac markers in the somites. This study demonstrates that Myo/Nog cells are essential regulators of BMP signaling in the early epiblast and are indispensable for normal morphogenesis and striated muscle lineage specification.
PMCID: PMC3192235  PMID: 21884693
MyoD; Noggin; BMP; Blastocyst; Myogenesis
2.  Noggin Producing, MyoD-Positive Cells are Crucial for Eye Development 
Developmental biology  2009;336(1):30-41.
A subpopulation of cells expresses MyoD mRNA and the cell surface G8 antigen in the epiblast prior to the onset of gastrulation. When an antibody to the G8 antigen was applied to epiblast, labeled cells were later found in the ocular primordial and muscle and non-muscle forming tissues of the eyes. In the lens, retina and periocular mesenchyme, G8-positive cells synthesized MyoD mRNA and the bone morphogenetic protein inhibitor Noggin. MyoD expressing cells were ablated in the epiblast by labeling them with the G8 MAb and lysing them with complement. Their ablation in the epiblast resulted in eye defects, including anopthalmia, micropthalmia, altered pigmentation and malformations of the lens and/or retina. The right eye was more severely affected than the left eye. The asymmetry of the eye defects in ablated embryos correlated with differences in the number of residual Noggin producing, MyoD-positive cells in ocular tissues. Exogenously supplied Noggin compensated for the ablated epiblast cells. This study demonstrates that MyoD expressing cells serve as a Noggin delivery system to regulate the morphogenesis of the lens and optic cup.
PMCID: PMC2783511  PMID: 19778533
epiblast; MyoD; Noggin; eye development
3.  Tracking and ablating subpopulations of epiblast cells in the chick embryo  
The early chick embryo contains subpopulations of cells that express lineage-specific transcription factors. We have developed protocols to examine the role of these cells during development that involve labeling them for cell tracking purposes and ablating them within the epiblast. The procedures take advantage of the fact that subpopulations of epiblast cells differentially express cell surface antigens recognized by monoclonal antibodies. Embryos are removed from the shell and incubated on the yolk with an antibody. Cells that bind the antibody are either tagged with a fluorescent secondary antibody or lysed with complement. For long-term analyses, embryos are returned to a host shell and placed in an incubator. This method of whole embryo manipulation ex-ovo and incubation in-ovo supports normal development into the fetal period.
PMCID: PMC2683548  PMID: 19461955
Chick Embryo; Staining and Labeling
4.  Cells that express MyoD mRNA in the epiblast are stably committed to the skeletal muscle lineage 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;178(4):649-660.
The epiblast of the chick embryo contains cells that express MyoD mRNA but not MyoD protein. We investigated whether MyoD-positive (MyoDpos) epiblast cells are stably committed to the skeletal muscle lineage or whether their fate can be altered in different environments. A small number of MyoDpos epiblast cells were tracked into the heart and nervous system. In these locations, they expressed MyoD mRNA and some synthesized MyoD protein. No MyoDpos epiblast cells differentiated into cardiac muscle or neurons. Similar results were obtained when MyoDpos cells were isolated from the epiblast and microinjected into the precardiac mesoderm or neural plate. In contrast, epiblast cells lacking MyoD differentiated according to their environment. These results demonstrate that the epiblast contains both multipotent cells and a subpopulation of cells that are stably committed to the skeletal muscle lineage before the onset of gastrulation. Stable programming in the epiblast may ensure that MyoDpos cells express similar signaling molecules in a variety of environments.
PMCID: PMC2064471  PMID: 17698608

Results 1-4 (4)