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Mesp2 initiates somite segmentation through the Notch signalling pathway.

The Notch-signalling pathway is important in establishing metameric pattern during somitogenesis. In mice, the lack of either of two molecules involved in the Notch-signalling pathway, Mesp2 or presenilin-1 (Ps1), results in contrasting phenotypes: caudalized versus rostralized vertebra. Here we adopt a genetic approach to analyse the molecular mechanism underlying the establishment of rostro-caudal polarity in somites. By focusing on the fact that expression of a Notch ligand, Dll1, is important for prefiguring somite identity, we found that Mesp2 initiates establishment of rostro-caudal polarity by controlling two Notch-signalling pathways. Initially, Mesp2 activates a Ps1-independent Notch-signalling cascade to suppress Dll1 expression and specify the rostral half of the somite. Ps1-mediated Notch-signalling is required to induce Dll1 expression in the caudal half of the somite. Therefore, Mesp2- and Ps1-dependent activation of Notch-signalling pathways might differentially regulate Dll1 expression, resulting in the establishment of the rostro-caudal polarity of somites.

Pubmed ID: 10932180


  • Takahashi Y
  • Koizumi K
  • Takagi A
  • Kitajima S
  • Inoue T
  • Koseki H
  • Saga Y


Nature genetics

Publication Data

August 28, 2000

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Body Patterning
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Presenilin-1
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction
  • Somites
  • Transcription Factors