Analysis of BMP signalling through the receptor type IA in embryogenesis using conditional gene inactivation in mice

Dmitry Alexander Ovchinnikov, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Although bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) were initially identified for their potent bone-inducing activity, their precise roles in processes of endochondral and intramembranous bone formation are far from being clear. Tissue-specific loss-of-function experiments using the BMP receptor type IA (BMPR-IA) are particularly attractive since this receptor is thought to be essential for signaling by the closely related BMPs -2, 4, and 7. To ablate signaling through this receptor during chondrogenesis, we have generated transgenic mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of the collagen type II (Col2a1) gene regulatory sequences. Mice lacking BMPR-IA function in chondrocytes display a number of skeletal abnormalities, including defects in bones of the chondrocranium, abnormal dorsal vertebral processes, scapulae with severe hypoplasia of dorsal elements, and shortening of the long bones. Alterations in the growth plate of long bones in mutants suggest that BMPR-IA is not required for early steps of the chondrocyte specification, but is rather important in regulation of terminal differentiation. Molecular analysis revealed noticeable downregulation of the Ihh/Ptch signalling pathway, decreased chondrocyte proliferation rate and deregulation of hypertrophy. In order to elucidate the role of BMP signalling in development of the limb and intramembranous ossification, we have used mice expressing Cre recombinase under control of the Prx1 (MHox) regulatory elements (M. Logan, pers comm.). Cre activity was found in those mice in the developing limb bud mesenchyme, as well as in a subset of cranial neural crest cells. Prx1-Cre-induced conditional mutants display prominent defects in distal limb outgrowth, as well as ossification defects in a number of neural crest-derived calvarial bones. Intriguingly, mutant limbs displayed alterations in patterning along all three axes. Molecular analysis revealed ectopic anterior Shh/Ptch signalling pathway activation and expression of some Hox genes. Observed loss of Msx1 and Msx2 expression in the progress zone correlates with downregulation of Cyclin D1 and decreased distal outgrowth. Abnormal ventral localization of Lmx1b-expressing cells along with observed later morphological abnormalities suggest a novel role for BMP signalling in establishment or maintaining of the dorso-ventral polarity in the limb mesoderm.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics|Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Ovchinnikov, Dmitry Alexander, "Analysis of BMP signalling through the receptor type IA in embryogenesis using conditional gene inactivation in mice" (2002). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3046068.