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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

ALK7, a receptor for nodal, is dispensable for embryogenesis and left-right patterning in the mouse.

Mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning during vertebrate development depend upon selected members of the transforming growth factor beta superfamily, particularly Nodal and Nodal-related ligands. Two type I serine/threonine kinase receptors have been identified for Nodal, ALK4 and ALK7. Mouse embryos lacking ALK4 fail to produce mesendoderm and die shortly after gastrulation, resembling the phenotype of Nodal knockout mice. Whether ALK4 contributes to left-right patterning is still unknown. Here we report the generation and initial characterization of mice lacking ALK7. Homozygous mutant mice were born at the expected frequency and remained viable and fertile. Viability at weaning was not different from that of the wild type in ALK7(-/-); Nodal(+/-) and ALK7(-/-); ALK4(+/-) compound mutants. ALK7 and ALK4 were highly expressed in interdigital regions of the developing limb bud. However, ALK7 mutant mice displayed no skeletal abnormalities or limb malformations. None of the left-right patterning abnormalities and organogenesis defects identified in mice carrying mutations in Nodal or in genes encoding ActRIIA and ActRIIB coreceptors, including heart malformations, pulmonary isomerism, right-sided gut, and spleen hypoplasia, were observed in mice lacking ALK7. Finally, the histological organization of the cerebellum, cortex, and hippocampus, all sites of significant ALK7 expression in the rodent brain, appeared normal in ALK7 mutant mice. We conclude that ALK7 is not an essential mediator of Nodal signaling during mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning in the mouse but may instead mediate other activities of Nodal and related ligands in the development or function of particular tissues and organs.[1]


  1. ALK7, a receptor for nodal, is dispensable for embryogenesis and left-right patterning in the mouse. Jörnvall, H., Reissmann, E., Andersson, O., Mehrkash, M., Ibáñez, C.F. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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