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Development. 2007 Jun;134(12):2359-68.

BMP signals control limb bud interdigital programmed cell death by regulating FGF signaling.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cancer and Developmental Biology National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.

Abstract

In vertebrate limbs that lack webbing, the embryonic interdigit region is removed by programmed cell death (PCD). Established models suggest that bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) directly trigger such PCD, although no direct genetic evidence exists for this. Alternatively, BMPs might indirectly affect PCD by regulating fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), which act as cell survival factors. Here, we inactivated the mouse BMP receptor gene Bmpr1a specifically in the limb bud apical ectodermal ridge (AER), a source of FGF activity. Early inactivation completely prevents AER formation. However, inactivation after limb bud initiation causes an upregulation of two AER-FGFs, Fgf4 and Fgf8, and a loss of interdigital PCD leading to webbed limbs. To determine whether excess FGF signaling inhibits interdigit PCD in these Bmpr1a mutant limbs, we performed double and triple AER-specific inactivations of Bmpr1a, Fgf4 and Fgf8. Webbing persists in AER-specific inactivations of Bmpr1a and Fgf8 owing to elevated Fgf4 expression. Inactivation of Bmpr1a, Fgf8 and one copy of Fgf4 eliminates webbing. We conclude that during normal embryogenesis, BMP signaling to the AER indirectly regulates interdigit PCD by regulating AER-FGFs, which act as survival factors for the interdigit mesenchyme.

PMID:
17537800
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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