BMP-2 induces ectopic expression of cardiac lineage markers and interferes with somite formation in chicken embryos

Mech Dev. 1998 Jan;70(1-2):119-31. doi: 10.1016/s0925-4773(97)00186-x.


In Drosophila induction of the homeobox gene tinman and subsequent heart formation are dependent on dpp signaling from overlying ectoderm. In order to define vertebrate heart-inducing signals we screened for dpp-homologues expressed in HH stage 4 chicken embryos. The majority of transcripts were found to be BMP-2 among several other members of the BMP family. From embryonic HH stage 4 onwards cardiogenic mesoderm appeared to be in close contact to BMP-2 expressing cells which initially were present in lateral mesoderm and subsequently after headfold formation in the pharyngeal endoderm. In order to assess the role of BMP-2 for heart formation, gastrulating chick embryos in New culture were implanted with BMP-2 producing cells. BMP-2 implantation resulted in ectopic cardiac mesoderm specification. BMP-2 was able to induce Nkx2-5 expression ectopically within the anterior head domain, while GATA-4 was also induced more caudally. Cardiogenic induction by BMP-2, however remained incomplete, since neither Nkx2-8 nor the cardiac-restricted structural gene VMHC-1 became ectopically induced. BMP-2 expressing cells implanted adjacent to paraxial mesoderm resulted in impaired somite formation and blocked the expression of marker genes, such as paraxis, Pax-3, and the forkhead gene cFKH-1. These results suggest that BMP-2 is part of the complex of cardiogenic signals and is involved in the patterning of early mesoderm similar to the role of dpp in Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gastrula / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Genetic Markers
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / embryology*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / drug effects
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Somites / cytology
  • Somites / drug effects*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta