Antagonists of Wnt and BMP signaling promote the formation of vertebrate head muscle

E. Tzahor, H. Kempf, R. Mootoosamy, A. Poon, A. Abzhanov, C. Tabin, Susanne Dietrich, A. Lassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies have postulated that distinct regulatory cascades control myogenic differentiation in the head and the trunk. However, although the tissues and signaling molecules that induce skeletal myogenesis in the trunk have been identified, the source of the signals that trigger skeletal muscle formation in the head remain obscure. Here we show that although myogenesis in the trunk paraxial mesoderm is induced by Wnt signals from the dorsal neural tube, myogenesis in the cranial paraxial mesoderm is blocked by these same signals. In addition, BMP family members that are expressed in both the dorsal neural tube and surface ectoderm are also potent inhibitors of myogenesis in the cranial paraxial mesoderm. We provide evidence suggesting that skeletal myogenesis in the head is induced by the BMP inhibitors, Noggin and Gremlin, and the Wnt inhibitor, Frzb. These molecules are secreted by both cranial neural crest cells and by other tissues surrounding the cranial muscle anlagen. Our findings demonstrate that head muscle formation is locally repressed by Wnt and BMP signals and induced by antagonists of these signaling pathways secreted by adjacent tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3087-99
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins/*antagonists & inhibitors/metabolism
  • CHO Cells/drug effects/metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cranial Nerves/metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Culture Techniques
  • Embryonic Induction/physiology
  • Glycoproteins/*pharmacology
  • Head
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mesoderm/cytology/physiology
  • Muscle Development/*drug effects
  • Muscle
  • Skeletal/cytology/*embryology
  • Neural Crest/metabolism
  • Proteins/*pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins/*antagonists & inhibitors/metabolism
  • Trans-Activators/metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins
  • *Zebrafish Proteins


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