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Dev Biol. 2002 Jan 15;241(2):273-88.

Regulation of nodal signalling and mesendoderm formation by TARAM-A, a TGFbeta-related type I receptor.

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U368 INSERM, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, 75230 Paris, France.


Nodal signalling is essential for many developmental events during vertebrate development, including the establishment of left-right asymmetry, of dorsoventral axis of the central nervous system, and endoderm and mesoderm formation. The zebrafish TGFbeta-related type I receptor, TARAM-A (Tar), is expressed in the prospective mesendodermal territory and, when activated, can transfate early blastomeres into endoderm, suggesting that Nodal and Tar may represent similar signalling pathways. We have analysed the functional relationships between those two pathways in zebrafish. We first demonstrate that tar and the zebrafish nodal genes cyc and sqt functionally interact. We also show that a dominant-negative isoform of Tar, TarMR, interferes specifically with the function of Cyc and Sqt in vitro, but does not interfere with the function of BMP2, another TGFbeta-related molecule. TarMR interferes also with Nodal signalling in vivo since it enhances the phenotype of embryos with weakened Nodal signalling. Overexpression of tarMR in wild-type embryos interfered with the formation of endoderm-derived structures. Conversely, overexpression of tar enlarged the presumptive mesendodermal region at the onset of gastrulation. Together, our results point to Tar as an essential factor for endoderm formation and an important modulator of Nodal signalling, potentially representing one of the Nodal receptors.

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