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Int J Dev Biol. 2006;50(4):377-84.

BMP2/4 and BMP5-8 in jellyfish development and transdifferentiation.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Basel, Biocenter/Pharmacenter, Basel, Switzerland.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) have key roles in gastrulation, mesoderm induction and axial patterning. The multitude of bilaterian BMPs employed in these morphogenetic processes contrasts starkly with the scarcity of BMPs in Cnidaria, the most basal eumetazoan phylum. In coral, sea anemone and hydra species, BMPs have been found to be associated with larval and polyp axial patterning. In the hydrozoan jellyfish Podocoryne (Hydractinia) carnea the BMP2/4 and BMP5-8 genes are expressed unilaterally in the larva, corroborating a possible role in larval axial development. With the focal area of BMP expression in the anterior region, however, the jellyfish larva may have a developmental reversal of spatial polarity compared to the anthozoan larva. In medusa development, BMP genes are expressed in divergent expression territories within the presumptive radial canals and in various parts of the endoderm, indicative of an involvement in mesoderm patterning and gastrovascular system formation reminiscent of bilaterian BMP functions. In addition, the BMP2/4 and BMP5-8 genes may play roles in wound response and dedifferentiation or S-phase re-entry, respectively, as the former is expressed in striated muscle cells immediately after excision from the bell and the latter in the initial phase of muscle cell transdifferentiation.

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