Multiple roles for Nodal in the epiblast of the mouse embryo in the establishment of anterior-posterior patterning

Dev Biol. 2004 Sep 1;273(1):149-59. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.06.004.


The TGFbeta family member Nodal has been shown to be involved in a variety of processes in development, including early axis formation. Here, we use a conditional gene inactivation strategy to show a specific requirement for Nodal in the epiblast. Complete inactivation of the Nodal locus in the epiblast using the Sox2-Cre deleter strain results in a failure to establish global anterior-posterior patterning, a phenotype that resembles the Nodal null phenotype. By contrast, mosaic inactivation of Nodal in the epiblast using the Mox2-Cre (MORE) deleter strain affects formation of the anterior mesendoderm and subsequent anterior neurectoderm patterning. Furthermore, ES cell chimera experiments indicate that Nodal-deficient ES cells preferentially populate the anterior compartment of the epiblast, suggesting that cell mixing in the epiblast is not random and that Nodal signaling mediates a novel anterior-posterior cell-sorting process within the epiblast before gastrulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Ectoderm / metabolism
  • Ectoderm / physiology
  • Endoderm / metabolism
  • Endoderm / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Gene Silencing / physiology*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mice / embryology*
  • Nodal Protein
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Nodal Protein
  • Nodal protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta