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Dev Biol. 2001 Apr 15;232(2):372-87.

A novel chordin-like protein inhibitor for bone morphogenetic proteins expressed preferentially in mesenchymal cell lineages.

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Department of Cell Biology, Amgen Incorporated, One Amgen Center Drive, Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA.


Chordin is a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) inhibitor that has been identified as a factor dorsalizing the Xenopus embryo. A novel secreted protein, CHL (for chordin-like), with significant homology to chordin, was isolated from mouse bone marrow stromal cells. Injection of CHL RNA into Xenopus embryos induced a secondary axis. Recombinant CHL protein inhibited the BMP4-dependent differentiation of embryonic stem cells in vitro and interacted directly with BMPs, similar to chordin. However, CHL also weakly bound to TGFbetas. In situ hybridization revealed that the mouse CHL gene, located on the X chromosome, was expressed predominantly in mesenchyme-derived cell types: (1) the dermatome and limb bud mesenchyme and, later, the subdermal mesenchyme and the chondrocytes of the developing skeleton during embryogenesis and (2) a layer of fibroblasts/connective tissue cells in the gastrointestinal tract, the thick straight segments of kidney tubules, and the marrow stromal cells in adults. An exception was expression in the neural cells of the olfactory bulb and cerebellum. Interestingly, the spatiotemporal expression patterns of CHL were distinct from those of chordin in many areas examined. Thus, CHL may serve as an important BMP regulator for differentiating mesenchymal cells, especially during skeletogenesis, and for developing specific neurons.

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