Development of bone morphogenetic protein receptors in the nervous system and possible roles in regulating trkC expression

Damin Zhang, Mark F. Mehler, Qingbin Song, John A. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Characterization of bone morphogenetic protein receptor (BMPR) expression during development is necessary for understanding the role of these factors during neural maturation. In this study, in situ hybridization analyses demonstrate that BMP-specific type I (BMPR-IA and BMPR-IB) and type II (BMPR-II) receptor mRNAs are expressed at significant levels in multiple regions of the CNS, cranial ganglia, and peripheral sensory and autonomic ganglia during the embryonic and neonatal periods. All three BMP receptor subunits are expressed within periventricular generative zones. BMPR-IA is more abundant than the other receptor subtypes, with widespread expression in the brain, cranial ganglia, and peripheral ganglia. By contrast, BMPR-IB mRNA displays significant expression within more restricted regions, including the anterior olfactory nuclei. BMPR-II mRNA exhibits peak expression within the cerebellar Purkinje cell layer and the hippocampus, as well as within cranial ganglia. The distribution of BMP receptors within large neurons in adult dorsal root ganglia suggested a possible role in regulating expression of the neurotrophin receptor trkC. This hypothesis was tested in explant cultures of embryonic day 15 (E15) and postnatal day 1 (P1) sympathetic superior cervical ganglia (SCG). Treatment of the E15 or the P1 SCG with BMP-2 induced expression of trkC mRNA and responsiveness of sympathetic neurons to NT3 as measured by neurite outgrowth. The pattern of expression of BMP receptors in embryonic brain suggests several potentially novel areas for further developmental analysis and supports numerous recent studies that indicate that BMPs have a broad range of cellular functions during neural development and in adult life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3314-3326
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1998


  • Bone morphogenetic protein receptor
  • Cranial ganglia
  • Dorsal root ganglia
  • Gliogenesis
  • Olfactory nuclei
  • Subventricular zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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