Coordination of murine limb muscle, skeleton and connective tissue development by Lmx1b

Ying Li, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The underlying genetic defects of a congenital disease Nail-Patella Syndrome are loss-of-function mutations in the LMX1B gene. Lmx1b encodes a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor that is expressed specifically in the dorsal limb bud mesenchyme. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments suggest that Lmx1b is both necessary and sufficient to specify dorsal limb patterning. However, how Lmx1b coordinates patterning of the dorsal tissues in the limb, including muscle, skeleton and connective tissues, remains unknown. One possibility is that each tissue specifies its own pattern cell-autonomously, i.e., Lmx1b is expressed in tissues in which it functions and different tissues do not communicate with each other. Another possibility is that tissues that express Lmx1b interact with adjacent tissues and provide patterning information thereby directing the development of tissues non-cell-autonomously. Previous results showed that Lmx1b is expressed in limb connective tissue and skeleton, but is not expressed in muscle tissue. Moreover, muscles and muscle connective tissue are closely associated during development. Therefore, we hypothesize that Lmx1b controls limb muscle dorsal-ventral (DV) patterning through muscle connective tissue, but regulates skeleton and tendon/ligament development cell-autonomously. To test this hypothesis, we first examined when and where the limb dorsal-ventral asymmetry is established during development. Subsequently, conditional knockout and overexpression experiments were performed to delete or activate Lmx1b in different tissues within the limb. Our results show that deletion of Lmx1b from whole limb mesenchyme results in all dorsal tissues, including muscle, tendon/ligament and skeleton, transforming into ventral structures. Skeleton-specific knockout of Lmx1b led to the dorsal duplication of distal sesamoid and metacarpal bones, but did not affect the pattern formation of other tissues, suggesting that Lmx1b controls skeleton development cell-autonomously. In addition, this skeleton-specific pattern alteration only occurs in distal limb tissues, not proximal limb tissues, indicating different regulatory mechanisms operate along the limb proximal-distal axis. Moreover, skeleton-specific ectopic expression of Lmx1b reveals a complementary skeletal-specific dorsalized phenotype. This result supports a cell-autonomous role for Lmx1b in dorsal-ventral skeletal patterning. This study enriched our understanding of limb development, and the insights from this research may also be applicable for the development of other organs.

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Recommended Citation

Li, Ying, "Coordination of murine limb muscle, skeleton and connective tissue development by Lmx1b" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3376905.