State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences,Kunming 650223, China; 2. Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China#: Authors contributed equally to the work
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are severe congenital malformation diseases, which occur in 1 out of 1000 births in human. In Xenopus, several tissue movements are involved in the neural tube closure process. Immediately after the neural tube fusion, the neural crest cells get monopolar protrusion toward dorsal midline and migrate to form the roof of the neural tube. At the same time, radial intercalation takes place from the ventral neural tube and forces it to be single-layered. Here, we physically block the neural tube closure to test the cell movements and the following patterning in Xenopus laevis explants. The results show that the single-layered neural tube fails to form and the neural crest cells remain at the lateral regions in the explants with NTDs. However, the patterning of the neural tube is not affected as indicated by the normal expression of the preneural genes. These results indicate a requirement of the neural tube fusion for the radial intercalation and the dorsal midline directed neural crest migration, but not for the dorsal-ventral patterning of the neural tube.