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Mech Dev. 1999 Jul;85(1-2):85-96.

Mesoderm patterning and somite formation during node regression: differential effects of chordin and noggin.

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Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, 701 West 168th Street #1602, New York, NY 10032, USA.


In Xenopus, one of the properties defining Spemann's organizer is its ability to dorsalise the mesoderm. When placed ajacent to prospective lateral/ventral mesoderm (blood, mesenchyme), the organizer causes these cells to adopt a more axial/dorsal fate (muscle). It seems likely that a similar property patterns the primitive streak of higher vertebrate embryos, but this has not yet been demonstrated clearly. Using quail/chick chimaeras and a panel of molecular markers, we show that Hensen's node (the amniote organizer) can induce posterior primitive streak (prospective lateral plate) to form somites (but not notochord) at the early neurula stage. We tested two BMP antagonists, noggin and chordin (both of which are expressed in the organizer), for their ability to generate somites and intermediate mesoderm from posterior streak, and find that noggin, but not chordin, can do this. Conversely, earlier in development, chordin can induce an ectopic primitive streak much more effectively than noggin, while neither BMP antagonist can induce neural tissue from extraembryonic epiblast. Neurulation is accompanied by regression of the node, which brings the prospective somite territory into a region expressing BMP-2, -4 and -7. One function of noggin at this stage may be to protect the prospective somite cells from the inhibitory action of BMPs. Our results suggest that the two BMP antagonists, noggin and chordin, may serve different functions during early stages of amniote development.

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