A Novel BMP Expressed in Developing Mouse Limb, Spinal Cord, and Tail Bud Is a Potent Mesoderm Inducer inXenopusEmbryos
ABSTRACT The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play critical roles in patterning the early embryo and in the development of many organs and tissues. We have identified a new member of this multifunctional gene family,BMP-11,which is most closely related toGDF-8/myostatin.During mouse embryogenesis,BMP-11is first detected at 9.5 dpc in the tail bud with expression becoming stronger as development proceeds. At 10.0 dpc,BMP-11is expressed in the distal and posterior region of the limb bud and later localizes to the mesenchyme between the skeletal elements.BMP-11is also expressed in the developing nervous system, in the dorsal root ganglia, and dorsal lateral region of the spinal cord. To assess the biological activity of BMP-11, we tested the protein in theXenopusectodermal explant (animal cap) assay. BMP-11 induced axial mesodermal tissue (muscle and notochord) in a dose-dependent fashion. At higher concentrations, BMP-11 also induced neural tissue. Interestingly, the activin antagonist, follistatin, but not noggin, an antagonist of BMPs 2 and 4, inhibited BMP-11 activity on animal caps. Our data suggest that inXenopusembryos, BMP-11 acts more like activin, inducing dorsal mesoderm and neural tissue, and less like other family members such as BMPs 2, 4, and 7, which are ventralizing and anti-neuralizing signals. Taken together, these data suggest that during vertebrate embryogenesis, BMP-11 plays a unique role in patterning both mesodermal and neural tissues.