Short-Versus Long-Range Effects of Spemann’s Organizer

  • Ira L. Blitz
  • Ken W. Y. Cho


Spemann and Mangold’s organizer grafting experiments provided the first evidence that the organizer produces signals that modify the dorsal-ventral (D-V) specification of the surrounding mesoderm. However, the distance over which these signals act remains poorly understood. Transplantation of gastrula organizer tissue from an unpigmented donor embryo into the lateral margin of a pigmented host of similar stage resulted in re-specification of prospective lateral plate mesoderm into more dorsal mesodermal tissue types including somitic muscle and pronephric kidney (Spemann and Mangold 1924). Since the grafted tissue contributed primarily to the notochord, this observation implicated organizer mesoderm in the orchestration of the development of paraxial and intermediate mesodermal cell types. Likewise, in ventralized embryos that fail to develop any axial or paraxial mesodermal (or neural) tissue, transplantation of an organizer completely rescues normal pattern (Gimlich 1986). These experiments are a powerful demonstration that the organizer has wide-ranging effects on embryonic development. Many depictions (see Fig. 2.2) of the organizer’s long-range effects on the marginal zone promote the idea that diffusible factors spread from the organizer into the surrounding tissues of the embryo during early gastrula stage and over large distances to specify each of the different mesodermal domains. But does this happen in vivo?


Late Blastula Early Gastrula Stage Early Gastrulation Bone Morphogenetic Protein Inhibitor Pronephric Tubule 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ira L. Blitz
  • Ken W. Y. Cho
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Cell Biology and the Developmental Biology CenterUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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