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Dev Biol. 1996 Mar 15;174(2):448-52.

Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) inhibits muscle development and promotes cartilage formation in chick limb bud cultures.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, University College London Medical School, United Kingdom.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) induce ectopic cartilage and bone when implanted intramuscularly in adult rats. Expression data suggest that BMPs signal skeletal development in embryos. An important question is which cells are targets of BMP signaling in adult and embryonic tissues. Here, we examined the effect of BMP-2 on micromass cultures of chick limb bud mesenchyme. We report that BMP-2 promotes formation of cartilage and simultaneously inhibits development of muscle cells. To follow the fate of presumptive muscle cells, we replaced chick somites with quail somites at the wing level and made micromass cultures from the chimeric wings. In untreated cultures, quail cells formed muscle but not cartilage. In BMP-2-treated cultures, quail cells disappeared altogether. This suggests that BMP-2 may simultaneously promote cartilage differentiation and reduce the presumptive myogenic cell populations in regions of skeletal development.

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