Regional expression, pattern and timing of convergence and extension during gastrulation of Xenopus laevis

R. Keller, M. Danilchik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Scopus citations


We show with time-lapse micrography that narrowing in the circumblastoporal dimension (convergence) and lengthening in the animal-vegetal dimension (extension) of the involuting marginal zone (IMZ) and the noninvoluting marginal zone (NIMZ) are the major tissue movements driving blastopore closure and involution of the IMZ during gastrulation in the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. Analysis of blastopore closure shows that the degree of convergence is uniform from dorsal to ventral sides, whereas the degree of extension is greater on the dorsal side of the gastrula. Explants of the gastrula show simultaneous convergence and extension in the dorsal IMZ and NIMZ. In both regions, convergence and extension are most pronounced at their common boundary, and decrease in both animal and vegetal directions. Convergent extension is autonomous to the IMZ and begins at stage 10.5, after the IMZ has involuted. In contrast, expression of the convergent extension in the NIMZ appears to be dependent on basal contact with chordamesoderm or with itself. The degree of extension decreases progressively in lateral and ventral sectors. Isolated ventral sectors show convergence without a corresponding degree of extension, perhaps reflecting the transient convergence and thickening that occurs in this region of the intact embryo. We present a detailed mechanism of how these processes are integrated with others to produce gastrulation. The significance of the regional expression of convergence and extension in Xenopus is discussed and compared to gastrulation in other amphibians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-209
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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