Members of the BMP family of signaling molecules display a high conservation of structure and function, and multiple BMPs are often coexpressed in a variety of tissues during development. Moreover, distinct BMP ligands are capable of activating common pathways. Here we describe the coexpression of two members of the 60A subfamily of BMPs, Bmp5 and Bmp7, at a number of different sites in the embryo from gastrulation onwards. Previous studies demonstrate that loss of either Bmp5 or Bmp7 has negligible effects on development, suggesting these molecules functionally compensate for each other at early stages of embryonic development. Here we show this is indeed the case. Thus we find that Bmp5;Bmp7 double mutants die at 10.5 dpc and display striking defects primarily affecting the tissues where these factors are coexpressed. The present analysis also uncovers novel roles for BMP signaling during the development of the allantois, heart, branchial arches, somites and forebrain. Bmp5 and Bmp7 do not appear to be involved in establishing pattern in these tissues, but are instead necessary for the proliferation and maintenance of specific cell populations. These findings are discussed with respect to potential mechanisms underlying cooperative signaling by multiple members of the TGF-beta superfamily.

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