The formation of fingers and toes in mice depends on multiple, interlocking signaling pathways, researchers in this week's Science report. These linked pathways protect the process of digit formation from mutations that could make it go awry. A team led by Rolf Zeller, a developmental biologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, wanted to understand why the complicated business of limb formation in a developing embryo turns out okay most of the time.
Signaling in the mouse embryo limb bud

Courtesy of AAAS/Science
Past work showed that in embryos, the germ layer that eventually forms the skin communicated with the one which transforms into connective tissue. Others had also teased out some of the molecular players in development: the proteins sonic hedgehog (SHH), gremlin (Grem), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and bone morphogenic protein (BMP). However, it wasn't clear how all these chemicals interacted. Zeller and his...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?