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Bone. 2003 Jul;33(1):14-27.

Fgfr mRNA isoforms in craniofacial bone development.

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  • 1Developmental Biology Programme, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. David.Rice@kcl.ac.uk


Mutations in genes encoding for fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) have been identified as causes of both chondrodysplasias and craniosynostoses, both of which cause abnormalities in the growth and development of the craniofacial region. FGFRs form mRNA splicing isoforms, each with distinct ligand binding specificity and tissue distribution. These confer specific biological functions on these isoforms. Although it is known that FGFRs are expressed at numerous locations during early mouse development, including the craniofacial area, relatively little is known about the expression of the splicing isoforms during craniofacial bone development. To address this, we have performed a detailed survey to detect these genes in the developing mouse craniofacial region. We have analyzed the developing mouse mandible, calvaria, and cranial base, in particular the spheno-occipital synchondrosis, a key centre of craniofacial growth. Fgfr1c was detected weakly in osteoblastic cells in both the developing calvarial and mandibular bones. Fgfr3b and Fgfr3c were found chiefly in proliferating chondrocytes of the cranial base synchondroses and the mandibular condyle. Fgfr2b transcripts were most notably detected in the perichondria of the mandibular condyle and the cranial base. Fgfr2c transcripts were detected with high intensity in differentiating osteoblasts at the sutural osteogenic fronts of the calvarial bones. In addition, Fgfr2c was also expressed in the perichondria of the mandibular condyle and the cranial base. These expression patterns suggest both differing and similar functions for -b and -c isoforms. The former is exemplified by Fgfr1 transcripts, which show distinct differences in their distribution, being mutually exclusive. Similar functions are suggested by the overlapping expression patterns of the -b and -c isoforms of both Fgfr2 and Fgfr3. Fgfr4 transcripts were found in developing muscles. These data help to explain the disturbances in craniofacial growth exhibited by both patients and the growing number of transgenic mice carrying mutations in genes encoding FGFRs/Fgfrs.

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