BMP-4 is believed to play a central role in the patterning of the mesoderm by providing a strong ventral signal. As part of this ventral patterning signal, BMP-4 has to activate a number of transcription factors to fulfill this role. Among the transcription factors regulated by BMP-4 are the Xvent and the GATA genes. A novel homeobox gene has been isolated termed Xvex-1 which represents a new class of homeobox genes. Transcription of Xvex-1 initiates soon after the midblastula transition. Xvex-1 transcripts undergo spatial restriction from the onset of gastrulation to the ventral marginal zone, and the transcripts will remain in this localization including at the tailbud stage in the proctodeum. Expression of Xvex-1 during gastrula stages requires normal BMP-4 activity as evidenced from the injection of BMP-4, Smad1, Smad5 and Smad6 mRNA and antisense BMP-4 RNA. Xvex-1 overexpression ventralizes the Xenopus embryo in a dose dependent manner. Partial loss of Xvex-1 activity induced by antisense RNA injection results in the dorsalization of embryos and the induction of secondary axis formation. Xvex-1 can rescue the effects of overexpressing the dominant negative BMP receptor. These results place Xvex-1 downstream of BMP-4 during gastrulation and suggest that it represents a novel homeobox family in Xenopus which is part of the ventral signaling pathway. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to thank Christof Niehrs, David Kimelman, Douglas Melton, Dale Frank and Eddy De Robertis for clones and libraries. Thomas Burglin for bringing to our attention the axolotl gene. Martin Blum and Herbert Steinbeisser for our fruitful discussions. This work was supported in part by a grant from the Council for Tobacco Research to A. Fainsod.
- Mesodermal patterning
- Ventral signal