The Francis Crick Institute
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Smad4 is essential for epiblast scaling and morphogenesis after implantation, but nonessential before implantation.

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-06, 11:01 authored by Robin E Kruger, Tristan Frum, A Sophie Brumm, Stephanie L Hickey, Kathy K Niakan, Farina Aziz, Marcelio A Shammami, Jada G Roberts, Amy Ralston
Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) signaling plays an essential and highly conserved role in embryo axial patterning in animal species. However, in mammalian embryos, which develop inside the mother, early development includes a preimplantation stage, which does not occur in externally developing embryos. During preimplantation, the epiblast is segregated from extraembryonic lineages that enable implantation and development in utero. Yet, the requirement for BMP signaling in is imprecisely defined in mouse early embryos. Here, we show that, in contrast to prior reports, BMP signaling (SMAD1/5/9 phosphorylation) is not detectable until implantation when it is detected in the primitive endoderm - an extraembryonic lineage. Moreover, preimplantation development appears normal following deletion of maternal and zygotic Smad4, an essential effector of canonical BMP signaling. In fact, mice lacking maternal Smad4 are viable. Finally, we uncover a new requirement for zygotic Smad4 in epiblast scaling and cavitation immediately after implantation, via a mechanism involving FGFR/ERK attenuation. Altogether, our results demonstrate no role for BMP4/SMAD4 in the first lineage decisions during mouse development. Rather, multi-pathway signaling among embryonic and extraembryonic cell types drives epiblast morphogenesis post-implantation.


Crick (Grant ID: CC2074, Grant title: Niakan CC2074)