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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 1999 Jun;10(3):319-26.

A gradient of BMP activity specifies dorsal-ventral fates in early Xenopus embryos.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.


BMP-4 is an extracellular signalling molecule belonging to the TGF-beta superfamily that plays a central role in dorsoventral patterning in vertebrate gastrulae. We review the evidence indicating that BMP-4 acts as a morphogen, specifying dorsoventral positional values in a concentration-dependent manner. An activity gradient of BMP-4 is established not by simple diffusion from a localised source, but by diffusion of inhibitory binding proteins that act on a uniform level of BMP-4 protein. These in turn are regulated by the activity of tolloid-related metalloproteases, such as Xenopus xolloid and zebrafish tolloid.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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