Indexed on: 25 Feb '00Published on: 25 Feb '00Published in: Nature
In mice, there is evidence suggesting that the development of head and trunk structures is organized by distinctly separated cell populations. The head organizer is located in the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) and the trunk organizer in the node and anterior primitive streak. In amphibians, Spemann's organizer, which is homologous to the node, partially overlaps with anterior endoderm cells expressing homologues of the AVE markers cerberus, Hex and Hesx1. For mice, this raises the question of whether the AVE and node are independent of each other, as suggested by their anatomical separation, or functionally interdependent as is the case in amphibians. Chordin and Noggin are secreted bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) antagonists expressed in the mouse node, but not in the AVE. Here we show that mice double-homozygous mutants that are for chordin and noggin display severe defects in the development of the prosencephalon. The results show that BMP antagonists in the node and its derivatives are required for head development.