Distinct activities of Msx1 and Msx3 in dorsal neural tube development.

Development 131(5):1017 (2004) PMID 14973289

Patterning of the dorsal neural tube involves Bmp signaling, which results in activation of multiple pathways leading to the formation of neural crest, roof plate and dorsal interneuron cell types. We show that constitutive activation of Bmp signaling at early stages (HH10-12) of chick neural tube development induces roof-plate cell fate, accompanied by an increase of programmed cell death and a repression of neuronal differentiation. These activities are mimicked by the overexpression of the homeodomain transcription factor Msx1, a factor known to be induced by Bmp signaling. By contrast, the closely related factor, Msx3, does not have these activities. At later stages of neural tube development (HH14-16), dorsal progenitor cells lose their competence to generate roof-plate cells in response to Bmp signaling and instead generate dorsal interneurons. This aspect of Bmp signaling is phenocopied by the overexpression of Msx3 but not Msx1. Taken together, these results suggest that these two different Msx family members can mediate distinct aspects of Bmp signaling during neural tube development.