Morpholinos for splice modificatio

Morpholinos for splice modification



During early embryogenesis of Xenopus, dorsoventral polarity of the mesoderm is established by dorsalizing and ventralizing agents, which are presumably mediated by the activity of an activin/BVg1-like protein and Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMP), respectively. Interestingly, these two TGF-beta subfamilies are found in overlapping regions during mesoderm patterning. This raises the question of how the presumptive mesodermal cells recognize the multiple TGF-beta signals and differentially interpret this information to assign a particular cell fate. In this study, we have exploited the well characterized model of Xenopus mesoderm induction to determine the intracellular interactions between BMP-2/4 and activin/BVg1 signaling cascades. Using a constitutively active BMP-2/4 receptor that transduces BMP-2/4 signals in a ligand-independent fashion, we demonstrate that signals provided by activin/BVg1 and BMP modulate each other's activity and that this crosstalk occurs through intracellular mechanisms. In assays using BMP-2/4 and activin/BVg1-specific reporters, we determined that the specificity of BMP-2/4 and activin/BVg1 signaling is mediated by Smad1 and Smad2, respectively. These Smads should be considered as the mediators of the intracellular antagonism between BMP-2/4 and activin/BVg1 signaling possibly through sequestration of a limited pool of Smad4. Consistent with such a mechanism, Smad4 interacts functionally with both Smad1 and −2 to potentiate their signaling activities, and a dominant negative variant of Smad4 can inhibit both activin/BVg1 and BMP-2/4 mediated signaling Finally, we demonstrate that an activin/BVg1-dependent transcriptional complex contains both Smad2 and Smad4 and thereby provides a physical basis for the functional involvement of both Smads in TGF-beta-dependent transcriptional regulation. Thus, Smad4 plays a central role in synergistically activating activin/BVg1 and BMP-dependent transcription and functions as an intracellular sensor for TGF-beta-related signals.