Bmp signaling is necessary and sufficient for ventrolateral endoderm specification in Xenopus



Here we show that Bmp signaling is necessary and sufficient for the specification of ventral endoderm in Xenopus embryos. Overexpression of Bmp4 in ectoderm induces markers of endoderm, including Sox17β, Mixer, and VegT, but cannot induce the expression of the dorsoanterior markers, Xhex and Cerberus. Furthermore, knockdown approaches using overexpression of Bmp antagonists and morpholinos designed against Bmp4, Bmp2, and Bmp7 demonstrate that Bmp signaling is critical for ventral, but not dorsoanterior endoderm formation. This activity is not simply a result of embryonic dorsalization as markers for dorsal endoderm are not expanded. We further show that endodermal cells of either ventral or dorsal character do not form when both Wnt and Bmp signals are abolished. Overall, this report strongly suggests that Bmp plays an essential role in ventral endoderm specification. Developmental Dynamics 237:2177–2186, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.