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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;24(24):10835-43.

The nuclear orphan receptor COUP-TFII is required for limb and skeletal muscle development.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The nuclear orphan receptor COUP-TFII is widely expressed in multiple tissues and organs throughout embryonic development, suggesting that COUP-TFII is involved in multiple aspects of embryogenesis. Because of the early embryonic lethality of COUP-TFII knockout mice, the role of COUP-TFII during limb development has not been determined. COUP-TFII is expressed in lateral plate mesoderm of the early embryo prior to limb bud formation. In addition, COUP-TFII is also expressed in the somites and skeletal muscle precursors of the limbs. Therefore, in order to study the potential role of COUP-TFII in limb and skeletal muscle development, we bypassed the early embryonic lethality of the COUP-TFII mutant by using two methods. First, embryonic chimera analysis has revealed an obligatory role for COUP-TFII in limb bud outgrowth since mutant cells are unable to contribute to the distally growing limb mesenchyme. Second, we used a conditional-knockout approach to ablate COUP-TFII specifically in the limbs. Loss of COUP-TFII in the limbs leads to hypoplastic skeletal muscle development, as well as shorter limbs. Taken together, our results demonstrate that COUP-TFII plays an early role in limb bud outgrowth but not limb bud initiation. Also, COUP-TFII is required for appropriate development of the skeletal musculature of developing limbs.

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