Outgrowth and patterning of the vertebrate limb requires a functional apical ectodermal ridge (AER). The AER is a thickening of ectodermal tissue located at the distal end of the limb bud. Loss of this structure, either through genetic or physical manipulations results in truncation of the limb. A number of genes, including Bmps, are expressed in the AER. Previously, it was shown that removal of the BMP receptor Bmpr1a specifically from the AER resulted in complete loss of hindlimbs suggesting that Bmp signaling in the AER is required for limb outgrowth. In this report, we genetically removed the three known AER-expressed Bmp ligands, Bmp2, Bmp4 and Bmp7 from the AER of the limb bud using floxed conditional alleles and the Msx2-cre allele. Surprisingly, only defects in digit patterning and not limb outgrowth were observed. In triple mutants, the anterior and posterior AER was present but loss of the central region of the AER was observed. These data suggest that Bmp ligands expressed in the AER are not required for limb outgrowth but instead play an essential role in maintaining the AER and patterning vertebrate digits. © 2012 Choi et al.
Choi, K. S., Lee, C., Maatouk, D. M., & Harfe, B. D. (2012). Bmp2, Bmp4 and Bmp7 are co-required in the mouse AER for normal digit patterning but not limb outgrowth. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037826