BMP/GDF-signalling interactions during synovial joint development
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The synovial joint arises from an initial condensation of cells that subsequently develops into distinct skeletal structures, separated by the joint. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and growth and differentiation factors (GDFs) have a fundamental role during skeletogenesis, including joint formation. Development of the joint appears to be dependent on the differential expression/activity of the related BMP and GDF subfamilies. Gdf-5 is expressed in the developing joints and is necessary for the formation of some joints. In contrast, recent data has shown that antagonism of the BMP family is crucial for joint formation. Here, we review mechanisms of how BMP signalling may be antagonised/modified. We also describe the expression of Bmp-2 and Bmp-4 together with two BMP antagonists, chordin and noggin, during chick joint development. Finally, we discuss possible mechanisms of how a joint forms and the evidence that the joint is a ’signalling centre’ that may coordinate the development of adjacent skeletal structures.
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