Essential role for the Pak4 protein kinase in extraembryonic tissue development and vessel formation

Yanmei Tian, Liang Lei, Marta Cammarano, Tanya Nekrasova, Audrey Minden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Pak4 is a member of the group B family of Pak serine/threonine kinases, originally identified as an effector protein for the Rho GTPase Cdc42. Pak4 knockout mice are embryonic lethal and do not survive past embryonic day 11.5. Previous work on Pak4 knockout mice has focused on studying the phenotype of the embryo. Abnormalities in the extraembryonic tissue, however, are common causes of early embryonic death in knockout mice. Extraembryonic tissue associated with the Pak4-null embryos was therefore examined. Abnormalities in both yolk sacs and placentas resulted when Pak4 was deleted. These included a lack of vasculature throughout the extraembryonic tissue, as well as an abnormally formed labyrinthine layer of the placenta. Interestingly, epiblast-specific deletion of Pak4 using a conditional knockout system, did not rescue the embryonic lethality. In fact, it did not even rescue the extraembryonic tissue defects. Our results suggest that the extraembryonic tissue abnormalities are secondary to defects that occur in response to epiblast abnormalities. More detailed analysis suggests that abnormalities in vasculature throughout the extraembryonic tissue and the epiblast may contribute to the death of the Pak4-null embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-720
Number of pages11
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Angiogenesis
  • Development
  • Pak4
  • Placenta
  • Vascularization
  • Yolk sac

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