Despite extensive studies on the anterior-posterior (AP) axis formation of limb buds, mechanisms that specify digit identities along the AP axis remain obscure. Using the four-digit chick leg as a model, we report here that Tbx2 and Tbx3 specify the digit identities of digits IV and III, respectively. Misexpression of Tbx2 and Tbx3 induced posterior homeotic transformation of digit III to digit IV and digit II to digit III, respectively. Conversely, misexpression of their mutants VP16ΔTbx2 and VP16ΔTbx3 induced anterior transformation. In both cases, alterations in the expression of several markers (e.g., BMP2, Shh, and HoxD genes) were observed. In addition, Tbx2 and Tbx3 rescued Noggin-mediated inhibition of interdigital BMP signaling, signaling which is pivotal in establishing digit identities. Hence, we conclude that Tbx3 specifies digit III, and the combination of Tbx2 and Tbx3 specifies digit IV, acting together with the interdigital BMP signaling cascade.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology