Plasma membrane cholesterol depletion disrupts prechordal plate and affects early forebrain patterning

Alice H. Reis, Karla L. Almeida-Coburn, Mariana P. Louza, Débora M. Cerqueira, Diego P. Aguiar, Livia Silva-Cardoso, Fábio A. Mendes, Leonardo R. Andrade, Marcelo Einicker-Lamas, Georgia C. Atella, José M. Brito, José G. Abreu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains (CRMMs) are specialized structures that have recently gained much attention in cell biology because of their involvement in cell signaling and trafficking. However, few investigations, particularly those addressing embryonic development, have succeeded in manipulating and observing CRMMs in living cells. In this study, we performed a detailed characterization of the CRMMs lipid composition during early frog development. Our data showed that disruption of CRMMs through methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) cholesterol depletion at the blastula stage did not affect Spemann's organizer gene expression and inductive properties, but impaired correct head development in frog and chick embryos by affecting the prechordal plate gene expression and cellular morphology. The MβCD anterior defect phenotype was recapitulated in head anlagen (HA) explant cultures. Culture of animal cap expressing Dkk1 combined with MβCD-HA generated a head containing eyes and cement gland. Together, these data show that during . Xenopus blastula and gastrula stages, CRMMs have a very dynamic lipid composition and provide evidence that the secreted Wnt antagonist Dkk1 can partially rescue anterior structures in cholesterol-depleted head anlagen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-362
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dkk
  • Head organizer
  • Lipid rafts
  • Methyl-beta-cyclodextrin
  • Microcephaly
  • Neutral lipids
  • Phospholipids


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasma membrane cholesterol depletion disrupts prechordal plate and affects early forebrain patterning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this