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Dev Biol. 1999 Oct 1;214(1):181-96.

Three different noggin genes antagonize the activity of bone morphogenetic proteins in the zebrafish embryo.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS, INSERM, ULP, 1 rue Laurent Fries, Illkirch Cedex, 67404, France.


The dorsoventral polarity of the vertebrate embryo is established through interactions between ventrally expressed bone morphogenetic proteins and their organizer-borne antagonists Noggin, Chordin, and Follistatin. While the opposing interactions between Short Gastrulation/Chordin and Decapentaplegic/BMP4 have been evolutionarily conserved in arthropods and vertebrates, there has been up to now no functional evidence of an implication of Noggin in the early patterning of organisms other than Xenopus. We have studied the contribution of Noggin to the embryonic development of the zebrafish. While single-copy noggin genes have been characterized in several vertebrate species, we report that the zebrafish genome harbors three noggin homologues. Overexpression experiments show that Noggin1, Noggin2, and Noggin3 can antagonize ventralizing BMPs. While all three factors have similar biological activities, their embryonic expression is different. The combined expression of the three genes recapitulates the different aspects of the expression of the single-copy noggin genes of other organisms. This suggests that the three zebrafish noggin genes and the single noggin genes of other vertebrates have evolved from a common ancestor and that subsequent differential loss of tissue-specific elements in the promoters of the different zebrafish genes accounts for their more restricted spatiotemporal expression. Finally we show that noggin1 is expressed in the fish organizer and able to dorsalize the embryo, suggesting its implication in the dorsoventral patterning of the zebrafish.

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