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Dev Dyn. 2004 Dec;231(4):741-9.

FGF-2 signaling is sufficient to induce dermal condensations during feather development.

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Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


In a previous report, we showed that fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) is a signal produced by epidermal placode cells during feather development and that this growth factor can induce feathers in scaleless mutant skins that fail to form feathers due to a defective epidermis (Song et al., [1996] Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:10246-10249). Here, we test whether FGF-2 is sufficient to induce dermal condensations, structures that normally form under the control of signals from the epidermal placode and are identified on the basis of aggregation of cells, the expression of FGF receptor-1 and bone morphogenetic protein-2 transcripts and the cessation of proliferation of the condensed cells. By using denuded 8-day scaleless dermis as a test system, we have established that FGF-2 is sufficient to induce dermal condensation. We suggest that the primary effect of FGF-2 is an increase in cellular density mediated through cell migration, followed by the expression of dermal condensation-specific genes and cessation of cell proliferation. The FGF-2 effect can be abolished by heparin, suggesting the involvement of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in growth factor signaling. The spatiotemporal expression of syndecan-3 during feather development suggests that this cell-surface HSPG may be involved in the response of competent embryonic skin dermis to FGF-2.

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