Mesenchymal factor bone morphogenetic protein 4 restricts ductal budding and branching morphogenesis in the developing prostate

Dev Biol. 2001 Apr 15;232(2):301-14. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2001.0187.


The budding of the urogenital sinus epithelium into the surrounding mesenchyme signals the onset of prostate morphogenesis. The epithelial and mesenchymal factors that regulate ductal budding and the ensuing process of ductal growth and branching are not fully known. We provide evidence that bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) is a mesenchymal factor that regulates ductal morphogenesis. The Bmp4 gene was most highly expressed in the male urogenital sinus from embryonic day 14 through birth, a period marked by formation of main prostatic ducts and initiation of ductal branching. From an initial wide distribution throughout the prostatic anlage of the urogenital sinus, Bmp4 expression became progressively restricted to the mesenchyme immediately surrounding the nascent prostatic ducts and branches. Exogenous BMP4 inhibited epithelial cell proliferation and exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition of ductal budding in urogenital sinus tissues cultured in vitro. Adult Bmp4 haploinsufficient mice exhibited an increased number of duct tips in both the ventral prostate and coagulating gland. Taken together, our data indicate that BMP4 is a urogenital sinus mesenchymal factor that restricts prostate ductal budding and branching morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / pharmacology
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Heterozygote
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Prostate / drug effects
  • Prostate / embryology*


  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA Primers