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Dev Biol 2017 Jan 15;4212:149-160. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.12.007.
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TGF-β sensu stricto signaling regulates skeletal morphogenesis in the sea urchin embryo.

Sun Z , Ettensohn CA .

Cell-cell signaling plays a prominent role in the formation of the embryonic skeleton of sea urchins, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. In the present study, we uncover an essential role for TGF-β sensu stricto signaling in this process. We show that TgfbrtII, a type II receptor dedicated to signaling through TGF-β sensu stricto, is expressed selectively in skeletogenic primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) during skeleton formation. Morpholino (MO) knockdowns and studies with a specific TgfbrtII inhibitor (ITD-1) in both S. purpuratus and Lytechinus variegatus embryos show that this receptor is required for biomineral deposition. We provide pharmacological evidence that Alk4/5/7 is the cognate TGF-β type I receptor that pairs with TgfbrtII and show by inhibitor treatments of isolated micromeres cultured in vitro that both Alk4/5/7 and TgfbrtII function cell-autonomously in PMCs. Gene expression and gene knockdown studies suggest that TGF-β sensu stricto may be the ligand that interacts with TgfbrtII and support the view that this TGF-β superfamily ligand provides an essential, permissive cue for skeletogenesis, although it is unlikely to provide spatial patterning information. Taken together, our findings reveal that this model morphogenetic process involves an even more diverse suite of cell signaling pathways than previously appreciated and show that PMCs integrate a complex set of both generalized and spatially localized cues in assembling the endoskeleton.

PubMed ID: 27955944
Article link: Dev Biol

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC100892350 LOC115919910 LOC583082 LOC593908 tgfbr2
Antibodies: msp130 Ab6
Morpholinos: LOC588471 MO1 LOC588471 MO2 LOC588471 MO3 tgfbr2 MO1 tgfbr2 MO2