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Dev Biol. 1992 Dec;154(2):318-30.

Medial edge epithelium fate traced by cell lineage analysis during epithelial-mesenchymal transformation in vivo.

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Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90033.


Vital cell labeling techniques were used to trace the fate of the medial edge epithelial (MEE) cells during palatal fusion in vivo. Mouse palatal tissues were labeled in utero with DiI. The fetuses continued to develop in utero and tissues of the secondary palate were examined at several later stages of palatal ontogeny. The presence and distribution of DiI was correlated with the presence of cell phenotype-specific markers. During the initial stages of palatal fusion the DiI-labeled MEE were present in the midline position. These cells were attached to an intact laminin-containing basement membrane and contained keratin intermediate filaments. At later stages of palatogenesis the DiI-labeled MEE were not separated from the mesenchyme by an intact basement membrane and did not contain keratin. In late fetal development, DiI-labeled cells without an epithelial morphology were present in the mesenchyme. The transition of the DiI-labeled cells from an epithelial phenotype to a mesenchymal phenotype is consistent with a fate of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation rather than programmed cell death.

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