XATH-1, a vertebrate homolog of Drosophila atonal, induces neuronal differentiation within ectodermal progenitors

Peter Kim, Amy W. Helms, Jane E. Johnson, Kathryn Zimmerman

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XATH-1, a basic/helix-loop-helix transcription factor and a homolog of Drosophila atonal and mammalian MATH-1, is expressed specifically in the dorsal hindbrain during Xenopus neural development. In order to investigate the role of XATH-1 in the neuronal differentiation process, we have examined the effects of XATH-1 overexpression during Xenopus development. XATH-1 induces the expression of neuronal differentiation markers, such as N- tubulin, within the neural plate as well as within nonneural ectodermal progenitor populations, resulting in the appearance of process-bearing neurons within the epidermis. The related basic/helix-loop-helix genes neurogenic-related-1 and neuroD are not induced in response to XATH-1 overexpression within the embryo, suggesting that XATH-1 may activate an alternate pathway of neuronal differentiation. In further contrast to neurogenic-related-1 and neuroD, high-level expression of general neural markers expressed earlier in development, such as N-CAM, is not induced by XATH-1 overexpression. Competent ectodermal progenitors therefore respond to ectopic XATH-1 expression by initiating a distinct program of neuronal differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology

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