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Dev Biol. 2000 Feb 1;218(1):89-98.

Bmp-4 requires the presence of the digits to initiate programmed cell death in limb interdigital tissues.

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Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, Peoples' Republic of China.


The effects of Bmp-4 on interdigital cell death were investigated in the mouse. Affi-Gel beads, loaded with recombinant Bmp-4 protein, were transplanted into the interdigital tissues of day 12.5 hindlimb, ex utero. It was established that Bmp-4 could induce precocious interdigital cell death. Using in situ hybridization, the expression patterns of bmp-4 and alk-6 receptor were established. Both genes were found coexpressed in the interdigital region of 12.5- and 13. 5-day hindlimbs. This suggests that Bmp-4 may act in an autocrine fashion. We have also studied the effects of Bmp-4 on 12.5-day interdigital tissue cultures. In all specimens examined, the interdigital tissues produced cartilage instead of participating in cell death. The addition of exogenous Bmp-4 to the interdigital cultures did not induce apoptosis but instead enhanced chondrogenesis. The discrepancy between the effects of Bmp-4 in vitro and ex utero was attributed to the presence of digits. When a flanking digit was left attached to the interdigital tissues, in vitro, Bmp-4 promoted apoptosis instead of chondrogenesis. In sum, the results suggest that Bmp-4 is a multifunctional protein and its effect on the interdigital tissues is dependent on the modulating influence of the digits.

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