Goosecoid (Gsc) expression marks the primary embryonic organizer in vertebrates and beyond. While functions have been assigned during later embryogenesis, the role of Gsc in the organizer has remained enigmatic. Using conditional gain-of-function approaches in Xenopus and mouse to maintain Gsc expression in the organizer and along the axial midline, neural tube closure defects (NTDs) arose and dorsal extension was compromised. Both phenotypes represent convergent extension (CE) defects, arising from impaired Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling. Dvl2 recruitment to the cell membrane was inhibited by Gsc in Xenopus animal cap assays and key Wnt/PCP factors (RhoA, Vangl2, Prickle, Wnt11) rescued Gsc-mediated NTDs. Re-evaluation of endogenous Gsc functions in MO-mediated gene knockdown frog and knockout mouse embryos unearthed PCP/CE-related phenotypes as well, including cartilage defects in Xenopus and misalignment of inner ear hair cells in mouse. Our results assign a novel function to Gsc as an inhibitor of Wnt/PCP-mediated CE. We propose that in the organizer Gsc represses CE as well: Gsc-expressing prechordal cells, which leave the organizer first, migrate and do not undergo CE like the Gsc-negative notochordal cells, which subsequently emerge from the organizer. In this model, Gsc provides a switch between cell migration and CE, i.e. cell intercalation.
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© The Author(s) 2017.