Axis elongation during Xenopus tail-bud stage is regulated by GABA expressed in the anterior-to-mid neural tube

Tomoyo Furukawa, Yuki Yamasaki, Yusuke Hara, Chisa Otsuki, Hiroko Maki, Tomoyoshi Soga, Yuki Moriyama, Hiroki Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The receptors of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a well-known neurotransmitter, are expressed in the anterior-to-mid neural tube at an early stage of Xenopus development, but there has been no report on the role of GABA in the presumptive central nervous system. Therefore, we tried to reveal the function of GABA for Xenopus early embryogenesis. We first confirmed that the region expressing a gene encoding glutamate decarboxylase 1 (gad1), which is an enzyme that catalyzes the decarboxylation of L-glutamate to GABA, overlapped with that of several genes encoding GABA receptors (gabr) in the neural tube. Metabolome analysis of culture medium of dorsal tail-bud explants containing the neural tube region of tail-bud stage embryos also revealed that GABA was expressed at this stage. Then, we examined the treatment of pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) and picrotoxin (PTX), which are known as inhibitors of GABA receptors (GABA-R), on the early stages of Xenopus embryogenesis, and found that axis elongation in the tail-bud was inhibited by both treatments, and these phenotypic effects were rescued by co-treatment with GABA. Moreover, our spatial- and temporal-specific inhibitor treatments revealed that the gabr- and gad1-overlapped region, which presents at the anterior-to-mid neural tube during the tail-bud stages, was much more sensitive to PTZ and thus caused severe inhibition of axis elongation. Taken together, our results indicate that the small ligand molecule GABA functions as a regulator to induce the axis elongation event in the tail-bud during early embryogenesis via direct stimulation of the neural tube and indirect stimulation of the surrounding area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Biology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Convergent extension
  • GABA
  • Neural tube
  • Pentylenetetrazole
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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