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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2009 Oct;19(5):491-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2009.08.004. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

New horizons at the caudal embryos: coordinated urogenital/reproductive organ formation by growth factor signaling.

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Division of Organ Formation, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.


The cloaca/urogenital sinus and its adjacent region differentiate into the urogenital/reproductive organs. Caudal regression syndrome (CRS; including mermaid syndrome), a type of severe cloacal malformation displays hindlimb fusion and urogenital organ defects, thus suggesting that such defects are caused by several morphogenetic alterations during early development. The attenuation of bone morphogenetic protein (Bmp) signaling at the posterior primitive streak of embryos leads to the caudal dysmorphogenesis including the cloaca and fusion of both hindlimbs. Genetic tissue lineage studies indicate the presence of coordinated organogenesis. Hedgehog (HH)-responding cells derived from peri-cloacal mesenchyme (PCM) contribute to the urogenital/reproductive organs. These findings indicate the existence of developmental programs for the coordinated organogenesis of urogenital/reproductive tissues based on growth factor function and crosstalk.

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