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Development. 2008 Jul;135(13):2311-9. doi: 10.1242/dev.019125.

Induction of mirror-image supernumerary jaws in chicken mandibular mesenchyme by Sonic Hedgehog-producing cells.

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  • 1CNRS, UPR 2197, Laboratoire de Développement, Evolution et Plasticité du Système nerveux, Institut de Neurobiologie Alfred Fessard, F-91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Previous studies have shown that Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling is crucial for the development of the first branchial arch (BA1) into a lower-jaw in avian and mammalian embryos. We have already shown that if Shh expression is precociously inhibited in pharyngeal endoderm, neural crest cells migrate to BA1 but fail to survive, and Meckel's cartilage and associated structures do not develop. This phenotype can be rescued by addition of an exogenous source of Shh. To decipher the role of Shh, we explored the consequences of providing an extra source of Shh to the presumptive BA1 territory. Grafting quail fibroblasts engineered to produce Shh (QT6-Shh), at the 5- to 8-somite stage, resulted in the induction of mirror-image extra lower jaws, caudolateral to the normal one. It turns out that the oral opening epithelium, in which Shh, Fgf8 and Bmp4 are expressed in a definite pattern, functions as an organizing center for lower-jaw development. In our experimental design, the extra source of Shh activates Fgf8, Bmp4 and Shh genes in caudal BA1 ectoderm in a spatial pattern similar to that of the oral epithelium, and regularly leads to the formation of two extra lower-jaw-organizing centers with opposite rostrocaudal polarities. These results emphasize the similarities between the developmental processes of the limb and mandibular buds, and show that in both cases Shh-producing cells create a zone of polarizing activity for the structures deriving from them.

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