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Development 2010 Jan 01;1372:223-35. doi: 10.1242/dev.042531.
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Nodal and BMP2/4 pattern the mesoderm and endoderm during development of the sea urchin embryo.

Duboc V , Lapraz F , Saudemont A , Bessodes N , Mekpoh F , Haillot E , Quirin M , Lepage T .

Nodal factors play fundamental roles in induction and patterning of the mesoderm and endoderm in vertebrates, but whether this reflects an ancient role or one that evolved recently in vertebrates is not known. Here, we report that in addition to its primary role in patterning the ectoderm, sea urchin Nodal is crucial for patterning of the endoderm and skeletogenic mesoderm through the regulation of the expression of key transcription factors and signalling molecules, including BMP2/4 and FGFA. In addition, we uncovered an essential role for Nodal and BMP2/4 in the formation and patterning of the non-skeletogenic mesoderm. By comparing the effects of misexpressing Nodal or an activated Nodal receptor in clones of cells, we provide evidence that Nodal acts over a long range in the endomesoderm and that its effects on the blastocoelar cell precursors are likely to be direct. The activity of Nodal and BMP2/4 are antagonistic, and although bmp2/4 is transcribed in the ventral ectoderm downstream of Nodal, the BMP2/4 ligand is translocated to the dorsal side, where it activates signalling in the dorsal primary mesenchyme cells, the dorsal endoderm and in pigment cell precursors. Therefore, correct patterning of the endomesoderm depends on a balance between ventralising Nodal signals and dorsalising BMP2/4 signals. These experiments confirm that Nodal is a key regulator of dorsal-ventral polarity in the sea urchin and support the idea that the ventral ectoderm, like the Spemann organiser in vertebrates, is an organising centre that is required for patterning all three germ layers of the embryo.

PubMed ID: 20040489
Article link: Development

Genes referenced: bmp2 LOC100887844 LOC115919910 nodall