Requirement for BMP Signaling in Interdigital Apoptosis and Scale Formation

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Science  03 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5262, pp. 738-741
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5262.738


Interdigital cell death leads to regression of soft tissue between embryonic digits in many vertebrates. Although the signals that regulate interdigital apoptosis are not known, BMPs—signaling molecules of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily—are expressed interdigitally. A dominant negative type I BMP receptor (dnBMPR-IB) was used here to block BMP signaling. Expression of dnBMPR in chicken embryonic hind limbs greatly reduced interdigital apoptosis and resulted in webbed feet. In addition, scales were transformed into feathers. The similarity of the webbing to webbed duck feet led to studies that indicate that BMPs are not expressed in the duck interdigit. These results indicate BMP signaling actively mediates cell death in the embryonic limb.

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