In sea urchin embryos, Notch signaling is required to segregate non-skeletogenic mesoderm from early endomesoderm, and is involved in endoderm development. To further investigate the role of Notch signaling in the endoderm cell lineage, we cloned a cDNA for the Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus ortholog of Suppressor of Hairless (HpSu(H)), which is a major mediator of the Notch signaling pathway, examined the expression during development and performed a functional analysis. HpSu(H) mRNA was ubiquitously expressed up to the unhatched blastula stage, and expression was exclusively detected in the vegetal plate region from the hatched blastula stage and then in the archenteron at the gastrula stage. Perturbation of HpSu(H) by injection of the dominant negative form of HpSu(H) (dn-HpSu(H)) mRNA into fertilized eggs led to the disappearance of secondary mesenchyme cells at the tip of the archenteron in the gastrula and pigment cells in the pluteus larva, confirming that Notch signaling is required for non-skeletogenic mesoderm specification. In addition, injection of relatively high amounts of dn-HpSu(H) mRNA caused a defect or atrophy of the foregut in the archenteron at the pluteus stage. This result strongly suggests that Notch signaling is involved in foregut development during sea urchin development.
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