BMP signaling is required for <i>nkx2</i>.<i>3</i>-positive pharyngeal pouch progenitor specification in zebrafish

by Linwei Li, Guozhu Ning, Shuyan Yang, Yifang Yan, Yu Cao, Qiang Wang

Pharyngeal pouches, a series of outpocketings that bud from the foregut endoderm, are essential to the formation of craniofacial skeleton as well as several important structures like parathyroid and thymus. However, whether pharyngeal pouch progenitors exist in the developing gut tube remains unknown. Here, taking advantage of cell lineage tracing and transgenic ablation technologies, we identified a population of nkx2.3+ pouch progenitors in zebrafish embryos and demonstrated an essential requirement of ectodermal BMP2b for their specification.At early somite stages, nkx2.3+ cells located at lateral region of pharyngeal endoderm give rise to the pouch epithelium except a subpopulation expressing pdgfαa rather than nkx2.3. A small-scale screen of chemical inhibitors reveals that BMP signaling is necessary to specify these progenitors. Loss-of-function analyses show that BMP2b, expressed in the pharyngeal ectoderm, actives Smad effectors in endodermal cells to induce nkx2.3+ progenitors. Collectively, our study provides in vivo evidence for the existence of pouch progenitors and highlights the importance of BMP2b signaling in progenitor specification.

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