Zebrafish bmp4 functions during late gastrulation to specify ventroposterior cell fates

Dev Biol. 2007 Oct 1;310(1):71-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.07.027. Epub 2007 Jul 28.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are key mediators of dorsoventral patterning in vertebrates and are required for the induction of ventral fates in fish and frogs. A widely accepted model of dorsoventral patterning postulates that a morphogenetic BMP activity gradient patterns cell fates along the dorsoventral axis. Recent work in zebrafish suggests that the role of BMP signaling changes over time, with BMPs required for global dorsoventral patterning during early gastrulation and for tail patterning during late gastrulation and early somitogenesis. Key questions remain about the late phase, including which BMP ligands are required and how the functions of BMPs differ during the early and late gastrula stages. In a screen for dominant enhancers of mutations in the homeobox genes vox and vent, which function in parallel to bmp signaling, we identified an insertion mutation in bmp4. We then performed a reverse genetic screen to isolate a null allele of bmp4. We report the characterization of these two alleles and demonstrate that BMP4 is required during the later phase of BMP signaling for the specification of ventroposterior cell fates. Our results indicate that different bmp genes are essential at different stages. In addition, we present genetic evidence supporting a role for a morphogenetic BMP gradient in establishing mesodermal fates during the later phase of BMP signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Gastrulation / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mesoderm / embryology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • bmp2b protein, zebrafish
  • bmp4 protein, zebrafish
  • bmp7a protein, zebrafish