Retinoic acid regulation of the Mesp-Ripply feedback loop during vertebrate segmental patterning

Tanya A. Moreno, Roberto Jappelli, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Chris Kintner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Mesp bHLH genes play a conserved role during segmental patterning of the mesoderm in the vertebrate embryo by specifying segmental boundaries and anteroposterior (A-P) segmental polarity. Here we use a xenotransgenic approach to compare the transcriptional enhancers that drive expression of the Mesp genes within segments of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) of different vertebrate species. We find that the genomic sequences upstream of the mespb gene in the pufferfish Takifugu rubripes (Tr-mespb) are able to drive segmental expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos while those from the Xenopus laevis mespb (Xl-mespb) gene drive segmental expression in transgenic zebrafish. In both cases, the anterior segmental boundary of transgene expression closely matches the expression of the endogenous Mesp genes, indicating that many inputs into segmental gene expression are highly conserved. By contrast, we find that direct retinoic acid (RA) regulation of endogenous Mesp gene expression is variable among vertebrate species. Both Tr-mespb and Xl-mespb are directly upregulated by RA, through a complex, distal element. By contrast, RA represses the zebrafish Mesp genes. We show that this repression is mediated, in part, by RA-mediated activation of the Ripply genes, which together with Mesp genes form an RA-responsive negative feedback loop. These observations suggest that variations in a direct response to RA input may allow for changes in A-P patterning of the segments in different vertebrate species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2008


  • Mesp
  • Patterning
  • Retinoic acid
  • Segmentation
  • Vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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