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Concept: MSX1


The Dlx and Msx homeodomain transcription factors play important roles in the control of limb development. The combined disruption of Msx1 and Msx2, as well as that of Dlx5 and Dlx6, lead to limb patterning defects with anomalies in digit number and shape. Msx1;Msx2 double mutants are characterized by the loss of derivatives of the anterior limb mesoderm which is not observed in either of the simple mutants. Dlx5;Dlx6 double mutants exhibit hindlimb ectrodactyly. While the morphogenetic action of Msx genes seems to involve the BMP molecules, the mode of action of Dlx genes still remains elusive. Here, examining the limb phenotypes of combined Dlx and Msx mutants we reveal a new Dlx-Msx regulatory loop directly involving BMPs. In Msx1;Dlx5;Dlx6 triple mutant mice (TKO), beside the expected ectrodactyly, we also observe the hallmark morphological anomalies of Msx1;Msx2 double mutants suggesting an epistatic role of Dlx5 and Dlx6 over Msx2. In Msx2;Dlx5;Dlx6 TKO mice we only observe an aggravation of the ectrodactyly defect without changes in the number of the individual components of the limb. Using a combination of qPCR, ChIP and bioinformatic analyses, we identify two Dlx/Msx regulatory pathways: 1) in the anterior limb mesoderm a non-cell autonomous Msx-Dlx regulatory loop involves BMP molecules through the AER and 2) in AER cells and, at later stages, in the limb mesoderm the regulation of Msx2 by Dlx5 and Dlx6 occurs also cell autonomously. These data bring new elements to decipher the complex AER-mesoderm dialogue that takes place during limb development and provide clues to understanding the etiology of congenital limb malformations.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Developmental biology, Mutant, Transcription factor, Transcription factors, Msh homeobox 2, MSX1


Mammalian embryonic diapause is a phenomenon defined by the temporary arrest in blastocyst growth and metabolic activity within the uterus which synchronously becomes quiescent to blastocyst activation and implantation. This reproductive strategy temporally uncouples conception from parturition until environmental or maternal conditions are favourable for the survival of the mother and newborn. The underlying molecular mechanism by which the uterus and embryo temporarily achieve quiescence, maintain blastocyst survival and then resume blastocyst activation with subsequent implantation remains unknown. Here, we show that uterine expression of Msx1 or Msx2, members of an ancient, highly conserved homeobox gene family, persists in three unrelated mammalian species during diapause, followed by rapid downregulation with blastocyst activation and implantation. Mice with uterine inactivation of Msx1 and Msx2 fail to achieve diapause and reactivation. Remarkably, the North American mink and Australian tammar wallaby share similar expression patterns of MSX1 or MSX2 as in mice-it persists during diapause and is rapidly downregulated upon blastocyst activation and implantation. Evidence from mouse studies suggests that the effects of Msx genes in diapause are mediated through Wnt5a, a known transcriptional target of uterine Msx. These studies provide strong evidence that the Msx gene family constitutes a common conserved molecular mediator in the uterus during embryonic diapause to improve female reproductive fitness.

Concepts: Gene, Pregnancy, Embryo, Organism, Developmental biology, Homeobox, Genes, MSX1


Inherited congenital anomalies in tooth number, particularly hypodontia are relatively common. Although substantial progress has been made that permits a better understanding of the causes of tooth agenesis, overall knowledge of the phenotype:genotype correlations in this anomaly are still lacking. The aim in this study was to identify the causal gene mutation(s) in a family of two sisters with severe hypodontia (oligodontia) including 2nd premolars and 1st and 3rd molars, using whole exome sequencing (WES).

Concepts: Genetics, Mutation, Causality, Metaphysics, Dentistry, Insertion, Hypodontia, MSX1


Is protein expression of the muscle segment homeobox gene family member MSX1 altered in the human secretory endometrium by cell type, developmental stage or fertility?

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Pregnancy, Cell, Developmental biology, Homeobox, Endometrium, MSX1


Recent studies have attributed non-syndromic tooth agenesis to mutations in several genes, including MSX1, PAX9, AXIN2, WNT10A and EDA. In this study, mutation of PAX9gene was investigated in a four-generation Chinese family with oligodontia.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Evolution, DNA repair, Genetic code, Point mutation, Molecular genetics, MSX1