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Development. 1990 Jun;109(2):341-8.

Differential growth of facial primordia in chick embryos: responses of facial mesenchyme to basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and serum in micromass culture.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College, Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


Differential growth of the three major facial primordia, the frontonasal mass, maxilla and mandible, results in a characteristic face shape. Abnormal growth of any of the primordia can lead to facial defects. In order to dissect out the factors that control growth, we developed a functional assay for cell proliferation using micromass culture and defined medium. Cell number was determined over a 4 day period and BrdU incorporation was used to determine the percentage of cells in S-phase. In defined medium, cell number progressively decreases and proliferation is very reduced in cultures of cells from all three primordia. When foetal calf serum was added, frontonasal mass cell number triples, mandible doubles and maxilla increases by half. The number of cells in S-phase increased in every case but the final cell number reflects a balance between proliferation and cell loss from the culture. The addition of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) to defined medium leads to an increase in cell number in the frontonasal mass, while the cell number of mandibular and maxillary cultures is relatively unaffected. The percentage of cells in S-phase is highest in frontonasal mass cultures. Serum and bFGF both increase chondrogenesis in frontonasal mass cultures when compared to defined medium. In contrast in mandibular cultures, serum does not change the amount of cartilage and with bFGF chondrogenesis is reduced. The coordination of the changes in proliferation and differentiation in frontonasal mass cultures suggest that either these two processes are independently stimulated to the same extent or a single subpopulation of cells is stimulated to divide and differentiate into chondrocytes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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