Ndrg2 regulates vertebral specification in differentiating somites

Huang Zhu, Jianzhi Zhao, Wenrong Zhou, Hanjun Li, Rujiang Zhou, Lingling Zhang, Haixia Zhao, Jingjing Cao, Xuming Zhu, Hongliang Hu, Gang Ma, Lin He, Zhengju Yao, Libo Yao, Xizhi Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It is generally thought that vertebral patterning and identity are globally determined prior to somite formation. Relatively little is known about the regulators of vertebral specification after somite segmentation. Here, we demonstrated that Ndrg2, a tumor suppressor gene, was dynamically expressed in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) and at early stage of differentiating somites. Loss of Ndrg2 in mice resulted in vertebral homeotic transformations in thoracic/lumbar and lumbar/sacral transitional regions in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, the inactivation of Ndrg2 in osteoblasts or chondrocytes caused defects resembling those observed in Ndrg2-/- mice, with a lower penetrance. In addition, forced overexpression of Ndrg2 in osteoblasts or chondrocytes also conferred vertebral defects, which were distinct from those in Ndrg2-/- mice. These genetic analyses revealed that Ndrg2 modulates vertebral identity in segmented somites rather than in the PSM. At the molecular level, combinatory alterations of the amount of Hoxc8-11 gene transcripts were detected in the differentiating somites of Ndrg2-/- embryos, which may partially account for the vertebral defects in Ndrg2 mutants. Nevertheless, Bmp/Smad signaling activity was elevated in the differentiating somites of Ndrg2-/- embryos. Collectively, our findings unveiled Ndrg2 as a novel regulator of vertebral specification in differentiating somites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-318
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Prof. Baojie Li for providing us with the Actin-Cre mice. We thank Prof. Xiao Yang for providing us the Col1a1 (3.6 kb)-Cre mice. This work was supported by the National Major Fundamental Research 973 program of China under grant ( 2007CB947301 and 2012CB966903 ) and grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 31171396 , 81121001 and 31100624 ).


  • Bmp/Smad signaling
  • Differentiating somites
  • Homeotic transformation
  • Hox genes
  • Ndrg2
  • Vertebral patterning


Dive into the research topics of 'Ndrg2 regulates vertebral specification in differentiating somites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this