The vertebrate limb serves as an experimental paradigm to study mechanisms that regulate development of the stereotypical skeletal elements. In this study, we simultaneously inactivated Sall4 using Hoxb6Cre and Plzf in mouse embryos, and found that their combined function regulates development of the proximal-anterior skeletal elements in hindlimbs. The Sall4; Plzf double knockout exhibits severe defects in the femur, tibia, and anterior digits, distinct defects compared to other allelic series of Sall4; Plzf. We found that Sall4 regulates Plzf expression prior to hindlimb outgrowth. Further expression analysis indicated that Hox10 genes and GLI3 are severely downregulated in the Sall4; Plzf double knockout hindlimb bud. In contrast, PLZF expression is reduced but detectable in Sall4; Gli3 double knockout limb buds, and SALL4 is expressed in the Plzf; Gli3 double knockout limb buds. These results indicate that Plzf, Gli3, and Hox10 genes downstream of Sall4, regulate femur and tibia development. In the autopod, we show that Sall4 negatively regulates Hedgehog signaling, which allows for development of the most anterior digit. Collectively, our study illustrates genetic systems that regulate development of the proximal-anterior skeletal elements in hindlimbs.
- Proximal-anterior skeleton
- Sonic Hedgehog-Gli3