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Fate-mapping of the epithelial seam during palatal fusion rules out epithelial-mesenchymal transformation.

Journal article
Authors Forugh Vazirisani
Kristina Hallberg
Brian D Harfe
Andrew P McMahon
Anders Linde
Amel Gritli Linde
Published in Developmental Biology
Volume 285
Issue 2
Pages 490-495
ISSN 0012-1606
Publication year 2005
Published at Institute of Odontology
Institute of Odontology, Department of Oral Biochemistry
Pages 490-495
Language en
Keywords Palate, Cleft palate, Epithelial-mesenchymal transformation, Fate-mapping, Sonic hedgehog
Subject categories Morphology, Cell and molecular biology, Developmental Biology


During palatogenesis, fusion of the palatine shelves is a crucial event, the failure of which results in the birth defect, cleft palate. The fate of the midline epithelial seam (MES), which develops transiently upon contact of the two palatine shelves, is still strongly debated. Three major mechanisms underlying the regression of the MES upon palatal fusion have been proposed: (1) apoptosis has been evidenced by morphological and molecular criteria; (2) epithelial-mesenchymal transformation has been suggested based on ultrastructural and lipophilic dye cell labeling observations; and (3) migration of MES cells toward the oral and nasal areas has been proposed following lipophilic dye cell labeling. To verify whether epithelial-mesenchymal transformation of MES cells takes place during murine palatal fusion, we used the Cre/lox system to genetically mark Sonic hedgehog- and Keratin-14-expressing palatal epithelial cells and to identify their fate in vivo. Our analyses provide conclusive evidence that rules out the occurrence of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation of MES cells.

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