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Mech Dev. 1998 Jan;70(1-2):119-31.

BMP-2 induces ectopic expression of cardiac lineage markers and interferes with somite formation in chicken embryos.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Institute for Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany.


In Drosophila induction of the homeobox gene tinman and subsequent heart formation are dependent on dpp signaling from overlying ectoderm. In order to define vertebrate heart-inducing signals we screened for dpp-homologues expressed in HH stage 4 chicken embryos. The majority of transcripts were found to be BMP-2 among several other members of the BMP family. From embryonic HH stage 4 onwards cardiogenic mesoderm appeared to be in close contact to BMP-2 expressing cells which initially were present in lateral mesoderm and subsequently after headfold formation in the pharyngeal endoderm. In order to assess the role of BMP-2 for heart formation, gastrulating chick embryos in New culture were implanted with BMP-2 producing cells. BMP-2 implantation resulted in ectopic cardiac mesoderm specification. BMP-2 was able to induce Nkx2-5 expression ectopically within the anterior head domain, while GATA-4 was also induced more caudally. Cardiogenic induction by BMP-2, however remained incomplete, since neither Nkx2-8 nor the cardiac-restricted structural gene VMHC-1 became ectopically induced. BMP-2 expressing cells implanted adjacent to paraxial mesoderm resulted in impaired somite formation and blocked the expression of marker genes, such as paraxis, Pax-3, and the forkhead gene cFKH-1. These results suggest that BMP-2 is part of the complex of cardiogenic signals and is involved in the patterning of early mesoderm similar to the role of dpp in Drosophila.

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