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Development. 2000 Mar;127(5):957-67.

Equivalent genetic roles for bmp7/snailhouse and bmp2b/swirl in dorsoventral pattern formation.

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University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6058, USA.


A bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway acts in the establishment of the dorsoventral axis of the vertebrate embryo. Here we demonstrate the genetic requirement for two different Bmp ligand subclass genes for dorsoventral pattern formation of the zebrafish embryo. From the relative efficiencies observed in Bmp ligand rescue experiments, conserved chromosomal synteny, and isolation of the zebrafish bmp7 gene, we determined that the strongly dorsalized snailhouse mutant phenotype is caused by a mutation in the bmp7 gene. We show that the original snailhouse allele is a hypomorphic mutation and we identify a snailhouse/bmp7 null mutant. We demonstrate that the snailhouse/bmp7 null mutant phenotype is identical to the presumptive null mutant phenotype of the strongest dorsalized zebrafish mutant swirl/bmp2b, revealing equivalent genetic roles for these two Bmp ligands. Double mutant snailhouse/bmp7; swirl/bmp2b embryos do not exhibit additional or stronger dorsalized phenotypes, indicating that these Bmp ligands do not function redundantly in early embryonic development. Furthermore, overexpression experiments reveal that Bmp2b and Bmp7 synergize in the ventralization of wild-type embryos through a cell-autonomous mechanism, suggesting that Bmp2b/Bmp7 heterodimers may act in vivo to specify ventral cell fates in the zebrafish embryo.

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