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Dev Growth Differ. 2008 Dec;50(9):717-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2008.01069.x.

Retinoic acid affects craniofacial patterning by changing Fgf8 expression in the pharyngeal ectoderm.

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Department of Oral Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


Retinoic acid signaling plays important roles in establishing normal patterning and cellular differentiation during embryonic development. In this study, we show that single administration of retinoic acid at embryonic day 8.5 causes homeotic transformation of the lower jaw into upper jaw-like structures. This homeosis was preceded by downregulation of Fgf8 and Sprouty expression in the proximal domain of the first pharyngeal arch. Downregulation of mesenchymal genes such as Dlx5, Hand2, Tbx1 and Pitx2 was also observed. The oropharynx in retinoic acid-treated embryos was severely constricted. Consistent with this observation, Patched expression in the arch endoderm and mesenchyme was downregulated. Thus, retinoic acid affects the expression of subsets of epithelial and mesenchymal genes, possibly disrupting the regional identity of the pharyngeal arch.

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