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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

EMG1 is essential for mouse pre-implantation embryo development

Xiaoli Wu1, Sumit Sandhu1, Nehal Patel1, Barbara Triggs-Raine123 and Hao Ding13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, University of Manitoba, 745 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg R3E 0J9, Canada

2 Department of Pediatrics & Child Health, University of Manitoba, 840 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg R3A 1S1, Canada

3 Center for the Investigation of Genetic Disease, Manitoba Institute of Child Health, 715 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg R3E 3P4, Canada

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BMC Developmental Biology 2010, 10:99  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-10-99

Published: 21 September 2010



Essential for mitotic growth 1 (EMG1) is a highly conserved nucleolar protein identified in yeast to have a critical function in ribosome biogenesis. A mutation in the human EMG1 homolog causes Bowen-Conradi syndrome (BCS), a developmental disorder characterized by severe growth failure and psychomotor retardation leading to death in early childhood. To begin to understand the role of EMG1 in mammalian development, and how its deficiency could lead to Bowen-Conradi syndrome, we have used mouse as a model. The expression of Emg1 during mouse development was examined and mice carrying a null mutation for Emg1 were generated and characterized.


Our studies indicated that Emg1 is broadly expressed during early mouse embryonic development. However, in late embryonic stages and during postnatal development, Emg1 exhibited specific expression patterns. To assess a developmental role for EMG1 in vivo, we exploited a mouse gene-targeting approach. Loss of EMG1 function in mice arrested embryonic development prior to the blastocyst stage. The arrested Emg1-/- embryos exhibited defects in early cell lineage-specification as well as in nucleologenesis. Further, loss of p53, which has been shown to rescue some phenotypes resulting from defects in ribosome biogenesis, failed to rescue the Emg1-/- pre-implantation lethality.


Our data demonstrate that Emg1 is highly expressed during mouse embryonic development, and essential for mouse pre-implantation development. The absolute requirement for EMG1 in early embryonic development is consistent with its essential role in yeast. Further, our findings also lend support to the previous study that showed Bowen-Conradi syndrome results from a partial EMG1 deficiency. A complete deficiency would not be expected to be compatible with a live birth.