Both activin-like signaling and Notch signaling play fundamental roles during early development. Activin-like signaling is involved in mesodermal induction and can induce a broad range of mesodermal genes and tissues from prospective ectodermal cells (animal caps). On the other hand, Notch signaling plays important roles when multipotent precursor cells achieve a specific cell fate. However, the relationship between these two signal pathways is not well understood. Here, we show that activin A induces Delta-1, Delta-2 and Notch expression and then activates Notch signaling in animal caps. Also, in vivo, ectopic activin-like signaling induced the ectopic expression of Delta-1 and Delta-2, whereas inhibition of activin-like signaling abolished the expression of Delta-1 and Delta-2. Furthermore, we show that MyoD, which is myogenic gene induced by activin A, can induce Delta-1 expression. However, MyoD had no effect on Notch expression, and inhibited Delta-2 expression. These results indicated that activin A induces Delta-1, Delta-2 and Notch by different cascades. We conclude that Notch signaling is activated when activin-like signaling induces various tissues from homogenous undifferentiated cells.
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