The lmx1b gene is pivotal in glomus development in Xenopus laevis.
We have previously shown that lmx1b, a LIM homeodomain protein, is expressed in the pronephric glomus. We now show temporal and spatial expression patterns of lmx1b and its potential binding partners in both dissected pronephric anlagen and in individual dissected components of stage 42 pronephroi. Morpholino oligonucleotide knock-down of lmx1b establishes a role for lmx1b in the development of the pronephric components. Depletion of lmx1b results in the formation of a glomus with reduced size. Pronephric tubules were also shown to be reduced in structure and/or coiling whereas more distal tubule structure was unaffected. Over-expression of lmx1b mRNA resulted in no significant phenotype. Given that lmx1b protein is known to function as a heterodimer, we have over-expressed lmx1b mRNA alone or in combination with potential interacting molecules and analysed the effects on kidney structures. Phenotypes observed by over-expression of lim1 and ldb1 are partially rescued by co-injection with lmx1b mRNA. Animal cap experiments confirm that co-injection of lmx1b with potential binding partners can up-regulate pronephric molecular markers suggesting that lmx1b lies upstream of wt1 in the gene network controlling glomus differentiation. This places lmx1b in a genetic hierarchy involved in pronephros development and suggests that it is the balance in levels of binding partners together with restricted expression domains of lmx1b and lim1 which influences differentiation into glomus or tubule derivatives in vivo.