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Nature. 2007 Sep 13;449(7159):183-8. Epub 2007 Aug 29.

MicroRNA control of Nodal signalling.

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Department of Histology, Microbiology and Medical Biotechnologies, Section of Histology and Embryology, University of Padua, viale Colombo 3, 35126 Padua, Italy.


MicroRNAs are crucial modulators of gene expression, yet their involvement as effectors of growth factor signalling is largely unknown. Ligands of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily are essential for development and adult tissue homeostasis. In early Xenopus embryos, signalling by the transforming growth factor-beta ligand Nodal is crucial for the dorsal induction of the Spemann's organizer. Here we report that Xenopus laevis microRNAs miR-15 and miR-16 restrict the size of the organizer by targeting the Nodal type II receptor Acvr2a. Endogenous miR-15 and miR-16 are ventrally enriched as they are negatively regulated by the dorsal Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. These findings exemplify the relevance of microRNAs as regulators of early embryonic patterning acting at the crossroads of fundamental signalling cascades.

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