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Dev Biol. 2000 Apr 15;220(2):154-67.

Targeted misexpression of constitutively active BMP receptor-IB causes bifurcation, duplication, and posterior transformation of digit in mouse limb.

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Department of Oral Biology, University of Oslo, Oslo, 0316, Norway.


Members of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play important roles in many aspects of vertebrate embryogenesis. In developing limbs, BMPs have been implicated in control of anterior-posterior patterning, outgrowth, chondrogenesis, and apoptosis. These diverse roles of BMPs in limb development are apparently mediated by different BMP receptors (BMPR). To identify the developmental processes in mouse limb possibly contributed by BMP receptor-IB (BMPR-IB), we generated transgenic mice misexpressing a constitutively active Bmpr-IB (caBmpr-IB). The transgene driven by the mouse Hoxb-6 promoter was ectopically expressed in the posterior mesenchyme of the forelimb bud, the lateral plate mesoderm, and the whole mesenchyme of the hindlimb bud. While the forelimbs appeared normal, the transgenic hindlimbs exhibited several phenotypes, including bifurcation, preaxial polydactyly, and posterior transformation of the anterior digit. However, the size of bones in the transgenic limbs seemed unaltered. Defects in sternum and ribs were also found. The bifurcation in the transgenic hindlimb occurred early in the limb development (E10.5) and was associated with extensive cell death in the mesenchyme and occasionally in the apical ectodermal ridge (AER). Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and Patched (Ptc) expression appeared unaffected in the transgenic limb buds, suggesting that the BMPR-IB mediated signaling pathway is downstream from Shh. However, ectopic Fgf4 expression was found in the anterior AER, which may account for the duplication of the anterior digit. An ectopic expression of Gremlin found in the transgenic limb bud would be responsible for the ectopic Fgf4 expression. The observations that Hoxd-12 and Hoxd-13 expression patterns were extended anteriorly provide a molecular basis for the posterior transformation of the anterior digit. Together these results suggest that BMPR-IB is the endogenous receptor to mediate the role of BMPs in anterior-posterior patterning and apoptosis in mouse developing limb. In addition, BMPR-IB may represent a critical component in the Shh/FGF4 feedback loop by regulating Gremlin expression.

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