In chick embryos homozygous for the limbless mutation, limb bud outgrowth is initiated, but a morphologically distinct apical ridge does not develop and limbs do not form. Here we report the results of an analysis of gene expression in limbless mutant limb buds. Fgf4, Fgf8, Bmp2 and Msx2, genes that are expressed in the apical ridge of normal limb buds, are not expressed in the mutant limb bud ectoderm, providing molecular support for the hypothesis that limb development fails in the limbless embryo because of the inability of the ectoderm to form a functional ridge. Moreover, Fgf8 expression is not detected in the ectoderm of the prospective limb territory or the early limb bud of limbless embryos. Since the early stages of limb bud outgrowth occur normally in the mutant embryos, this indicates that FGF8 is not required to promote initial limb bud outgrowth. In the absence of FGF8, Shh is also not expressed in the mutant limb buds, although its expression can be induced by application of FGF8-soaked beads. These observations support the hypothesis that Fgf8 is required for the induction of Shh expression during normal limb development. Bmp2 expression was also not detected in mutant limb mesoderm, consistent with the hypothesis that SHH induces its expression. In contrast, SHH is not required for the induction of Hoxd11 or Hoxd13 expression, since expression of both these genes was detected in the mutant limb buds. Thus, some aspects of mesoderm A-P patterning can occur in the absence of SHH and factors normally expressed in the apical ridge. Intriguingly, mutant limbs rescued by local application of FGF displayed a dorsalized feather pattern. Furthermore, the expression of Wnt7a, Lmx1 and En1, genes involved in limb D-V patterning, was found to be abnormal in mutant limb buds. These data suggest that D-V patterning and apical ridge formation are linked, since they show that the limbless mutation affects both processes. We present a model that explains the potential link between D-V positional information and apical ridge formation, and discuss the possible function of the limbless gene in terms of this model.
The chick limbless mutation causes abnormalities in limb bud dorsal-ventral patterning: implications for the mechanism of apical ridge formation
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U. Grieshammer, G. Minowada, J.M. Pisenti, U.K. Abbott, G.R. Martin; The chick limbless mutation causes abnormalities in limb bud dorsal-ventral patterning: implications for the mechanism of apical ridge formation. Development 1 December 1996; 122 (12): 3851–3861. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.122.12.3851
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