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Anat Rec (Hoboken) May 1, 2014; 297 (5): 834-55.

Quantitative analysis of orofacial development and median clefts in Xenopus laevis.

Xenopus has become a useful tool to study the molecular mechanisms underlying orofacial development. However, few quantitative analyses exist to describe the anatomy of this region. In this study we combine traditional facial measurements with geometric morphometrics to describe anatomical changes in the orofacial region during normal and abnormal development. Facial measurements and principal component (PC) analysis indicate that during early tadpole development the face expands primarily in the midface region accounting for the development of the upper jaw and primary palate. The mouth opening correspondingly becomes flatter and wider as it incorporates the jaw elements. A canonical variate analysis of orofacial and mouth opening shape emphasized that changes in the orofacial shape occur gradually. Orofacial anatomy was quantified after altered levels of retinoic acid using all-trans retinoic acid or an inhibitor of retinoic acid receptors or by injecting antisense oligos targeting RALDH2. Such perturbations resulted in major decreases in the width of the midface and the mouth opening illustrated in facial measurements and a PC analysis. The mouth opening shape also had a gap in the primary palate resulting in a median cleft in the mouth opening that was only illustrated quantitatively in the morphometric analysis. Finally, canonical and discriminant function analysis statistically distinguished the orofacial and mouth opening shape changes among the different modes used to alter retinoic acid signaling levels. By combining quantitative analyses with molecular studies of orofacial development we will be better equipped to understand the complex morphogenetic processes involved in palate development and clefting.

PubMed ID: 24443252
Article link: Anat Rec (Hoboken)

Genes referenced: aldh1a2 pc.1
Morpholinos: aldh1a2 MO1

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