On the function of BMP-4 in patterning the marginal zone of the Xenopus embryo

EMBO J. 1994 Nov 1;13(21):5015-25.


Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP-4) is expressed in the ventral marginal zone of the gastrulating embryo. At late gastrula stage this gene is expressed in the ventral-most part of the slit blastopore and in tissues that derive from it. At tailbud stages BMP-4 is expressed in the spinal cord roof plate, neural crest, eye and auditory vesicle. The interactions of BMP-4 with dorsal genes such as goosecoid (gsc) and Xnot-2 were studied in vivo. In embryos ventralized by UV irradiation and suramin treatment, BMP-4 zygotic transcripts accumulate prematurely and the entire marginal zone expresses this gene. The patterning effect of BMP-4 on ventro-posterior development can be revealed by a sensitive assay involving the injection of BMP-4 mRNA in the ventral marginal zone of embryos partially dorsalized with LiCl, which leads to the complete rescue of trunk and tail structures. The experiments presented here argue that BMP-4 may act in vivo as a ventral signal for the proper patterning of the marginal zone, actively interacting with dorsal genes such as gsc and Xnot-2. A model is proposed in which the timing of expression of various marginal zone-specific genes plays a central role in patterning the mesoderm.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / radiation effects
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Gastrula
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / radiation effects
  • Goosecoid Protein
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Mesoderm
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Xenopus / embryology*
  • Xenopus Proteins*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Goosecoid Protein
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Not protein, Xenopus
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Lithium Chloride