MicroRNA control of Nodal signalling

Nature. 2007 Sep 13;449(7159):183-8. doi: 10.1038/nature06100. Epub 2007 Aug 29.


MicroRNAs are crucial modulators of gene expression, yet their involvement as effectors of growth factor signalling is largely unknown. Ligands of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily are essential for development and adult tissue homeostasis. In early Xenopus embryos, signalling by the transforming growth factor-beta ligand Nodal is crucial for the dorsal induction of the Spemann's organizer. Here we report that Xenopus laevis microRNAs miR-15 and miR-16 restrict the size of the organizer by targeting the Nodal type II receptor Acvr2a. Endogenous miR-15 and miR-16 are ventrally enriched as they are negatively regulated by the dorsal Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. These findings exemplify the relevance of microRNAs as regulators of early embryonic patterning acting at the crossroads of fundamental signalling cascades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors, Type II / biosynthesis
  • Activin Receptors, Type II / genetics
  • Activin Receptors, Type II / metabolism*
  • Activins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Nodal Protein
  • Organizers, Embryonic / embryology
  • Organizers, Embryonic / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*
  • Xenopus laevis / genetics*
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • MIRN15 microRNA, Xenopus
  • MicroRNAs
  • Nodal Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Activins
  • Activin Receptors, Type II