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Open Access Research article

Mouse Tenm4 is required for mesoderm induction

Hisashi Nakamura, Rita N Cook and Monica J Justice*

Author Affiliations

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

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BMC Developmental Biology 2013, 13:9  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-13-9

Published: 25 March 2013



Tenm4 is a mouse homolog of the Drosophila gene Tenascin-m (Ten-m (Odd oz)), which functions in motor neuron routing. Recently, a genome-wide association analysis for bipolar disorder identified a new susceptibility locus at TENM4 increasing the importance of understanding Tenm4. A series of Tenm4 mouse alleles showing a broad range of phenotypes were isolated after ENU mutagenesis. Here, we examine the timing and features of gastrulation failure in a loss of function allele.


Embryonic mesoderm did not form in loss of function Tenm4m1/m1 mutant embryos. Genes normally expressed in embryonic mesoderm were not expressed in the mutant, the primitive streak did not form, and markers of the anteroposterior axis were not expressed or were mislocalized. The lack of embryonic mesoderm could not be attributed to poor proliferation of the epiblast, as normal numbers of dividing cells were observed. Epiblast cells maintained expression of Pou5f1 suggesting that they remain pluripotent, but they did not have the capacity to form any germ layer derivatives in teratomas, showing that the inability to induce mesoderm is cell autonomous. Misexpression of E-cadherin and N-cadherin suggest that the embryos did not undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. In addition, Wnt signaling did not occur in the mutants, as assessed by the TOPGAL reporter assay, while a GSK3β inhibitor partially rescued the mutant embryos, and rescued TOPGAL reporter expression.


These data demonstrate that Tenm4 mutants fail to form a primitive streak and to induce embryonic mesoderm. Markers of anterior posterior patterning fail to be expressed or are mislocalized. Further, Tenm4 mutants lack the ability to differentiate in a cell autonomous manner. Together, our data suggest that embryos become impaired prior to E6.5 and as a result, Wnt signaling fails to occur; however, the involvement of other signaling pathways remains to be examined.

Mouse; Tenm4; Gastrulation; Mesoderm induction; Anterior-posterior patterning; Bipolar disorder; Wnt signaling and ENU mutagenesis