RESOURCES: A Xanadu for Xenopus

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Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1027
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5519.1027d

Once used in human pregnancy tests because a hormone in a pregnant woman's urine makes it lay eggs, the African clawed frog, Xenopus, is a favorite test subject of cell and developmental biologists. The fast-growing critter also stars in Xenbase, an expanding community Web site.

Built to replace a plainer site, Xenbase offers a researcher directory, job postings, and links to genomic databases. There are also a slew of jazzy features such as automated MEDLINE searches. (Click on “eye” to get only those Xenopus papers.) Under Maps and Movies, check out films of growing embryos and a heart development atlas. And “fate maps” reveal with a few clicks where the 16 cells, or blastomeres, in an early embryo wind up after 10 hours of division. By summer, “we will have a list of genes expressed in those areas and show when they come on and go off,” says biologist Peter Vize of the University of Texas, Austin, the site's overseer.

Vize and colleagues are planning much more, including diagrams of cell signaling pathways. Another section under way will include tissue images that show where a specific protein is expressed—from embryo to tadpole—for thousands of genes.

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