Hox genes control vertebrate body elongation by collinear Wnt repression

  1. Nicolas Denans
  2. Tadahiro Iimura
  3. Olivier Pourquié  Is a corresponding author
  1. Stanford School of Medicine, United States
  2. Stowers Institute for Medical Research, United States
  3. University of Strasbourg, France

Abstract

In vertebrates, the total number of vertebrae is precisely defined. Vertebrae derive from embryonic somites which are continuously produced posteriorly from the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) during body formation. We show that in the chicken embryo, activation of posterior Hox genes (paralogs 9-13) in the tail-bud correlates with the slowing-down of axis elongation. Our data indicate that a subset of progressively more posterior Hox genes, which are collinearly activated in vertebral precursors, repress Wnt activity with increasing strength. This leads to a graded repression of the Brachyury/T transcription factor, reducing mesoderm ingression and slowing down the elongation process. Due to the continuation of somite formation, this mechanism leads to the progressive reduction of PSM size. This ultimately brings the retinoic acid (RA)-producing segmented region in close vicinity to the tail bud, potentially accounting for the termination of segmentation and axis elongation.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Nicolas Denans

    Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Tadahiro Iimura

    Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Olivier Pourquié

    Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), University of Strasbourg, Illkirch, France
    For correspondence
    pourquie@igbmc.fr
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Marianne E Bronner, California Institute of Technology, United States

Version history

  1. Received: August 14, 2014
  2. Accepted: February 20, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 26, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 16, 2015 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2015, Denans et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Nicolas Denans
  2. Tadahiro Iimura
  3. Olivier Pourquié
(2015)
Hox genes control vertebrate body elongation by collinear Wnt repression
eLife 4:e04379.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04379

Share this article

https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04379

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