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Development. 2011 Mar;138(5):897-903. doi: 10.1242/dev.057505. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Dlx5 and Dlx6 expression in the anterior neural fold is essential for patterning the dorsal nasal capsule.

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Evolution des Régulations Endocriniennes, CNRS UMR 7221, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.


Morphogenesis of the vertebrate facial skeleton depends upon inductive interactions between cephalic neural crest cells (CNCCs) and cephalic epithelia. The nasal capsule is a CNCC-derived cartilaginous structure comprising a ventral midline bar (mesethmoid) overlaid by a dorsal capsule (ectethmoid). Although Shh signalling from the anterior-most region of the endoderm (EZ-I) patterns the mesethmoid, the cues involved in ectethmoid induction are still undefined. Here, we show that ectethmoid formation depends upon Dlx5 and Dlx6 expression in a restricted ectodermal territory of the anterior neural folds, which we name NF-ZA. In both chick and mouse neurulas, Dlx5 and Dlx6 expression is mostly restricted to NF-ZA. Simultaneous Dlx5 and Dlx6 inactivation in the mouse precludes ectethmoid formation, while the mesethmoid is still present. Consistently, siRNA-mediated downregulation of Dlx5 and Dlx6 in the cephalic region of the early avian neurula specifically prevents ectethmoid formation, whereas other CNCC-derived structures, including the mesethmoid, are not affected. Similarly, NF-ZA surgical removal in chick neurulas averts ectethmoid development, whereas grafting a supernumerary NF-ZA results in an ectopic ectethmoid. Simultaneous ablation or grafting of both NF-ZA and EZ-I result, respectively, in the absence or duplication of both dorsal and ventral nasal capsule components. The present work shows that early ectodermal and endodermal signals instruct different contingents of CNCCs to form the ectethmoid and the mesethmoid, which then assemble to form a complete nasal capsule.

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