Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

The Kinase SGK1 in the Endoderm and Mesoderm Promotes Ectodermal Survival by Down-Regulating Components of the Death-Inducing Signaling Complex

Science Signaling  18 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 156, pp. ra2
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001211

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Survival Signal from Afar

All of the tissues and organs in vertebrates develop from just three germ layers—ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. Although programmed cell death plays key roles in proper development, inappropriate apoptosis must be prevented. Endo et al. report an intertissue signaling pathway by which the endodermal and mesodermal layers promote the survival of the ectodermal layer. Depletion of serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1) in Xenopus embryos caused apoptosis in the ectoderm in vivo but not in ectodermal explants. SGK1 participated in an endodermal and mesodermal signaling pathway that resulted in nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)–mediated transcription and release of bone morphogenetic protein 7, which suppressed the transcription of genes encoding components of death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) in the ectoderm. Thus, the embryonic ectoderm receives apoptotic signals, but an SGK1 signaling pathway in the other two germ layers opposes these cues to promote survival.