Developmental biology

Cordon-bleu is a conserved gene involved in neural tube formation.

PMID 14512015


The axial midline is an important source of patterning and morphogenesis cues in the vertebrate embryo. The midline derives from a small group of cells in the gastrulating embryo, known as "the organizer" in recognition of its ability to organize an entire body plan. The mammalian organizer, the node, gives rise to axial midline structures: the notochord, dorsal foregut, and part of the floor plate of the neural tube. Only some of the genes that direct midline development are known. In this study, we present the complete coding sequence for a novel gene, cordon-bleu (cobl), expressed specifically in the node and its derivatives until organogenesis stages. The deduced sequence does not resemble any gene of known function. However, cobl is widely conserved: apparent orthologs and paralogs are found in many vertebrate species, with several sequence domains of high conservation but unknown function. We find that chicken cordon-bleu is similarly expressed in the node and its derivatives, suggesting functional conservation. We also report the sequence and nonoverlapping expression of a related mouse gene, Coblr1. Finally, we show that cobl interacts with the neurulation gene Vangl2 to facilitate midbrain neural tube closure, demonstrating roles for both cobl and Vangl2 in midbrain neurulation.