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Dev Dyn. 2000 Apr;217(4):401-14.

Positionally-dependent chondrogenesis induced by BMP4 is co-regulated by Sox9 and Msx2.

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Craniofacial Development Section, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2745, USA.


Cranial neural crest cells emigrate from the posterior midbrain and anterior hindbrain to populate the first branchial arch and eventually differentiate into multiple cell lineages in the maxilla and mandible during craniofacial morphogenesis. In the developing mouse mandibular process, the expression profiles of BMP4, Msx2, Sox9, and type II collagen demonstrate temporally and spatially restrictive localization patterns suggestive of their functions in the patterning and differentiation of cartilage. Under serumless culture conditions, beads soaked in BMP4 and implanted into embryonic day 10 (E10) mouse mandibular explants induced ectopic cartilage formation in the proximal position of the explant. However, BMP4-soaked beads implanted at the rostral position did not have an inductive effect. Ectopic chondrogenesis was associated with the up-regulation of Sox9 and Msx2 expression in the immediate vicinity of the BMP4 beads 24 hours after implantation. Control beads had no effect on cartilage induction or Msx2 and Sox9 expression. Sox9 was induced at all sites of BMP4 bead implantation. In contrast, Msx2 expression was induced more intensely at the rostral position when compared with the proximal position, and suggested that Msx2 expression was inhibitory to chondrogenesis. To test the hypothesis that over-expression of Msx2 inhibits chondrogenesis, we ectopically expressed Msx2 in the mandibular process organ culture system using adenovirus gene delivery strategy. Microinjection of the Msx2-adenovirus to the proximal position inhibited BMP4-induced chondrogenesis. Over-expression of Msx2 also resulted in the abrogation of endogenous cartilage and the down-regulation of type II collagen expression. Taken together, these results suggest that BMP4 induces chondrogenesis, the pattern of which is positively regulated by Sox9 and negatively by Msx2. Chondrogenesis only occurs at sites where Sox9 expression is high relative to that of Msx2. The combinatorial action of these transcription factors appear to establish a threshold for Sox9 function and thereby restricts the position of chondrogenesis.

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