We have examined the roles of BMP4, Shh, and retinoic acid in establishing the proximal-distal and dorsal-ventral axes in the developing Xenopus eye. Misexpression of BMP4 caused the absence of an optic stalk and the expansion of dorsal and distal markers, tbx2/3/5, and pax6, at the expense of ventral and proximal markers vax2 and pax2. When Shh or Noggin, an antagonist of BMPs, was misexpressed, the reverse expression patterns of these marker genes were observed. These results suggest that BMP4 is involved in the specification of not only dorsal in the optic cup but also distal in the optic vesicle. Because Shh did not suppress bmp4 expression, unlike Noggin, Shh and BMP4 may antagonistically regulate common downstream genes in developing eye. We also found the difference between the effects of Shh and retinoic acid, another possible ventralizing factor, suggesting that Shh could promote ventralization independently of retinoic acid. These findings provide important clues to the coordinate and antagonistic actions of BMP4, Shh, and retinoic acid in axes specifications of Xenopus eyes.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.