A Fox code for the face

June 26, 2018 by Cristy Lytal, University of Southern California
Skeletal staining of the lower face of a zebrafish, with cartilage in blue, and bones and teeth in red. Credit: Pengfei Xu/Crump Lab/USC Stem Cell

In the developing face, how do stem cells know whether to become cartilage, bones or teeth? To begin to answer this question, scientists from the USC Stem Cell laboratory of Gage Crump tested the role of a key family of genes, called "Forkhead-domain transcription factors," or Fox. Their findings appear in the journal Development.

While mutations in the Fox genes can cause diseases ranging from cancer to language disorders, postdoc Pengfei Xu and her collaborators focused on how these genes affect facial development.

"While examination of Fox genes in the mammalian face reveals they are required for bone and palate formation, whether Fox genes broadly control regional facial skeletal fates, as well as their mechanisms of action, remains unclear," said Xu.

To observe this, the team created mutant zebrafish that lacked different types of Fox—specifically, Fox-C genes or Fox-F genes. They found that fish lacking Fox-C failed to form cartilage in the upper face. Fish lacking Fox-F genes had problems developing their jaws, cartilage in the middle of their faces and teeth.

Further experiments revealed that Fox-C and Fox-F have a role in helping another important gene, Sox9, activate a slew of additional genes that promote cartilage development in the embryo.

Other laboratories have noted similar effects in mice lacking Fox genes. These findings suggest that the Fox play a role in the facial development of not only zebrafish and mice, but also many other vertebrate species, including humans.

"Transcription factors like Sox9 play roles in many different organs in the body," said Crump, who is a professor of and regenerative medicine at USC. "This tour-de-force genetic study shows how a family of Fox factors direct to form only cartilage and teeth and not other cell types. This may help in strategies toward directing to form and teeth for future regenerative medicine applications."

Explore further: Stem cell scientists chew on the mysteries of jaw development

More information: Pengfei Xu et al. Fox proteins are modular competency factors for facial cartilage and tooth specification, Development (2018). DOI: 10.1242/dev.165498

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not rated yet Jun 26, 2018
Can you switch Beaks of 2 Bird Species ?
OR Can you Create a via media structure ?
5 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2018
Researching the Fox genes should go a long way to improve the quality of life in vertebrates, including humans. Nature doesn't always cooperate with the original 'programming', so all improvements in helping the unfortunates will go a long way to increase health and happiness.

""Can you switch Beaks of 2 Bird Species ?
For what reason would you want to do that? All species have their own programming within their DNA/RNA that has allowed them to adapt to their particular/peculiar environment. Mess with that programming in that way and the species could become endangered.
not rated yet Jun 30, 2018
Can you switch Beaks of 2 Bird Species ?
OR Can you Create a via media structure ?


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