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Development. 2003 Dec;130(25):6375-85.

Genetic dissection of Pitx2 in craniofacial development uncovers new functions in branchial arch morphogenesis, late aspects of tooth morphogenesis and cell migration.

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  • 1Alkek Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M System Health Science Center, 2121 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Pitx2, a paired-related homeobox gene that encodes multiple isoforms, is the gene mutated in the haploinsufficient Rieger Syndrome type 1 that includes dental, ocular and abdominal wall anomalies as cardinal features. Previous analysis of the craniofacial phenotype of Pitx2-null mice revealed that Pitx2 was both a positive regulator of Fgf8 and a repressor of Bmp4-signaling, suggesting that Pitx2 may function as a coordinator of craniofacial signaling pathways. We show that Pitx2 isoforms have interchangeable functions in branchial arches and that Pitx2 target pathways respond to small changes in total Pitx2 dose. Analysis of Pitx2 allelic combinations that encode varying levels of Pitx2 showed that repression of Bmp signaling requires high Pitx2 while maintenance of Fgf8 signaling requires only low Pitx2. Fate-mapping studies with a Pitx2 cre recombinase knock in allele revealed that Pitx2 daughter cells are migratory and move aberrantly in the craniofacial region of Pitx2 mutant embryos. Our data reveal that Pitx2 function depends on total Pitx2 dose and rule out the possibility that the differential sensitivity of target pathways was a consequence of isoform target specificity. Moreover, our results uncover a new function of Pitx2 in regulation of cell motility in craniofacial development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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