Ohta, K., Lupo, G., Kuriyama, S., Keynes, R., Holt, C.E., Harris, W.A., Tanaka, H., and Ohnuma, S. (2004) Tsukushi functions as an organizer inducer by inhibition of BMP activity in cooperation with chordin. Developmental Cell. 7(3):347-358.
During chick gastrulation, inhibition of BMP signaling is required for primitive streak formation and induction of Hensen's node. We have identified a unique secreted protein, Tsukushi (TSK), which belongs to the Small Leucine-Rich Proteoglycan (SLRP) family and is expressed in the primitive streak and Hensen's node. Grafts of cells expressing TSK in combination with the middle primitive streak induce an ectopic Hensen's node, while electroporation of TSK siRNA inhibits induction of the node. In Xenopus embryos, TSK can block BMP function and induce a secondary dorsal axis, while it can dorsalize ventral mesoderm and induce neural tissue in embryonic explants. Biochemical analysis shows that TSK binds directly to both BMP and chordin and forms a ternary complex with them. These observations indicate that TSK is an essential dorsalizing factor involved in the induction of Hensen's node.