University of Cambridge > > Evolution and Development Seminar Series > The role of FoxN3 in the development of the chondrocranium and associated head muscles in the African Clawed-frog, Xenopus laevis

The role of FoxN3 in the development of the chondrocranium and associated head muscles in the African Clawed-frog, Xenopus laevis

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Studies of chondrocranium evolution and development has led to the discovery of major genes and mechanisms that govern its early development. However, many of the genetic interactions forming the gene regulatory network controlling cell condensation, chondrogenesis and morphogenesis of the chondrocranium are still poorly understood. FoxN3 has been reported to be crucial for the normal development of neural crest-derived elements of the chondrocranium and its associated muscles in Xenopus laevis. But the genetic interactions by which FoxN3 regulates chondrogenesis and muscle development in the head of X. laevis are still poorly known. We used Morpholino-mediated knock down in combination with qRT-PCR and whole-mount in situ hybridization to analyse potential target genes of FoxN3. The temporal and spatial expressions of different cartilage, muscle and joint markers as well as cell adhesion molecules are changed following FoxN3 depletion. Expression of N-CAM and N-Cadherin is decreased throughout development and expression of genes important for cartilage formation (Sox-9, Col2╬▒1, Runx-2) is delayed. Joint markers (Gdf5/6) and genes (Dlx5/6) important for regional specification are also down-regulated. Additionally, expression levels of key myogenic genes such as MyoD and of structural muscle genes are reduced compared to control embryos. This results in smaller cartilage and muscle anlagen and incomplete development of neural crest-, but not mesodermal-, derived elements of the chondrocranium. Additionally, FoxN3 is important for the formation of the intermediate domain during joint development in the head of X. laevis. It seems that FoxN3 plays a key role upstream of a complex gene regulatory network maintaining normal cartilage and joint formation of the chondrocranium and proper development of the muscles connected to it.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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