SMAD4 target genes are part of a transcriptional network that integrates the response to BMP and SHH signaling during early limb bud patterning

Development. 2021 Dec 1;148(23):dev200182. doi: 10.1242/dev.200182. Epub 2021 Dec 3.


SMAD4 regulates gene expression in response to BMP and TGFβ signal transduction, and is required for diverse morphogenetic processes, but its target genes have remained largely elusive. Here, we identify the SMAD4 target genes in mouse limb buds using an epitope-tagged Smad4 allele for ChIP-seq analysis in combination with transcription profiling. This analysis shows that SMAD4 predominantly mediates BMP signal transduction during early limb bud development. Unexpectedly, the expression of cholesterol biosynthesis enzymes is precociously downregulated and intracellular cholesterol levels are reduced in Smad4-deficient limb bud mesenchymal progenitors. Most importantly, our analysis reveals a predominant function of SMAD4 in upregulating target genes in the anterior limb bud mesenchyme. Analysis of differentially expressed genes shared between Smad4- and Shh-deficient limb buds corroborates this function of SMAD4 and also reveals the repressive effect of SMAD4 on posterior genes that are upregulated in response to SHH signaling. This analysis uncovers opposing trans-regulatory inputs from SHH- and SMAD4-mediated BMP signal transduction on anterior and posterior gene expression during the digit patterning and outgrowth in early limb buds.

Keywords: Anterior; BMP; ChIP-seq; Cistrome; Limb development; Mouse; RNA-seq; SHH; SMAD4.

Publication types

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