Int. J. Dev. Biol. 43: 495 - 500 (1999)
© UPV/EHU Press

Involvement of Frzb-1 in mesenchymal condensation and cartilage differentiation in the chick limb bud.

N Wada, Y Kawakami, R Ladher, P H Francis-West and T Nohno

Department of Molecular Biology, Kawasaki Medical School, Kurashiki, Japan.

ABSTRACT In developing limb bud, mesenchymal cells form cellular aggregates called "mesenchymal condensations". These condensations show the prepattern of skeletal elements of the limb prior to cartilage differentiation. Roles of various signaling molecules in chondrogenesis in the limb bud have been reported. One group of signaling factors includes the Wnt proteins, which have been shown to have an inhibitory effect on chondrogenesis in the limb bud. Therefore, regulation of Wnt activity may be important in regulating cartilage differentiation. Here we show that Frzb-1, which encodes a secreted frizzled-related protein that can bind to Wnt proteins and can antagonize the activity of some Wnts, is expressed in the developing limb bud. At early stages of limb development, Frzb-1 is expressed in the ventral core mesenchyme of the limb bud, and later Frzb-1 expression becomes restricted to the central core region where mesenchymal condensations occur. At these stages, a chondrogenic marker gene, aggrecan, is not yet expressed. As limb development proceeds, expression of Frzb-1 is detected in cartilage primordial cells, although ultimately Frzb-1 expression is down-regulated. Similar results were obtained in the recombinant limb bud, which was constructed from dissociated and re-aggregated mesenchymal cells and an ectodermal jacket with the apical ectodermal ridge. In addition, Frzb-1 expression preceded aggrecan expression in micromass cultures. These results suggest that Frzb-1 has a role in condensation formation and cartilage differentiation by regulating Wnt activity in the limb bud.