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A vertebrate crossveinless 2 homologue modulates BMP activity and neural crest cell migration
Edward Coles, Jeff Christiansen, Androulla Economou, Marianne Bronner-Fraser, David G. Wilkinson


Previous work has revealed that proteins that bind to bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and inhibit their signalling have a crucial role in the spatial and temporal regulation of cell differentiation and cell migration by BMPs. We have identified a chick homologue of crossveinless 2, a Drosophila gene that was identified in genetic studies as a promoter of BMP-like signalling. Chick Cv-2 has a conserved structure of five cysteine-rich repeats similar to those found in several BMP antagonists, and a C-terminal Von Willebrand type D domain. Cv-2 is expressed in the chick embryo in a number of tissues at sites at which elevated BMP signalling is required. One such site of expression is premigratory neural crest, in which at trunk levels threshold levels of BMP activity are required to initiate cell migration. We show that, when overexpressed, Cv-2 can weakly antagonise BMP4 activity in Xenopus embryos, but that in other in vitro assays Cv-2 can increase the activity of co-expressed BMP4. Furthermore, we find that increased expression of Cv-2 causes premature onset of trunk neural crest cell migration in the chick embryo, indicative of Cv-2 acting to promote BMP activity at an endogenous site of expression. We therefore propose that BMP signalling is modulated both by antagonists and by Cv-2 that acts to elevate BMP activity.


  • * Present address: MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK

    • Accepted August 24, 2004.
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