Genetic analysis of the role of Alx4 in the coordination of lower body and external genitalia formation

Daisuke Matsumaru, Ryuma Haraguchi, Anne M. Moon, Yoshihiko Satoh, Naomi Nakagata, Ken Ichi Yamamura, Naoki Takahashi, Sohei Kitazawa, Gen Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Although several syndromes include abnormalities of both the ventral body wall and external genitalia, the developmental bases of this correlation are largely unknown. Naturally occurring mutations in Aristaless-like 4 (Alx4, Strong's luxoid: Alx4 Lst) have ventral body wall and pelvic girdle abnormalities. We sought to determine whether the development of the genital tubercle (GT) and its derivatives, the external genitalia, is affected by this mutation. We thus performed genetic and tissue labeling analyses in mutant mice. Alx4 Lst/Lst mutants displayed hypoplasia of the dorsal GT and reduced expression of Fibronectin. We analyzed cell migration during GT formation by tissue labeling experiments and discovered that the cells located in the proximal segment of the umbilical cord (infra-umbilical mesenchyme) migrate toward the dorsal part of the GT. The Alx4 Lst/Lst mutants also displayed augmented expression of Hh signal-related genes. Hence, we analyzed a series of combinatorial mutants for Alx4, Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and GLI-Kruppel family member 3 (Gli3). These phenotype-genotype analyses suggested a genetic interaction between Alx4 and Hh signaling during GT formation. Moreover, Hh gain-of-function mutants phenocopied some of these phenotypes. These observations reveal novel information regarding the pathogenic mechanisms of syndromic lower ventral body malformations, which are largely unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Alx4
  • Hedgehog signaling
  • cell migration
  • external genitalia
  • genetic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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