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Semin Cell Dev Biol March 1, 2016; 51 54-63.
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Using frogs faces to dissect the mechanisms underlying human orofacial defects.

In this review I discuss how Xenopus laevis is an effective model to dissect the mechanisms underlying orofacial defects. This species has been particularly useful in studying the understudied structures of the developing face including the embryonic mouth and primary palate. The embryonic mouth is the first opening between the foregut and the environment and is critical for adult mouth development. The final step in embryonic mouth formation is the perforation of a thin layer of tissue covering the digestive tube called the buccopharyngeal membrane. When this tissue does not perforate in humans it can pose serious health risks for the fetus and child. The primary palate forms just dorsal to the embryonic mouth and in non-amniotes it functions as the roof of the adult mouth. Defects in the primary palate result in a median oral cleft that appears similar across the vertebrates. In humans, these median clefts are often severe and surgically difficult to repair. Xenopus has several qualities that make it advantageous for craniofacial research. The free living embryo has an easily accessible face and we have also developed several new tools to analyze the development of the region. Further, Xenopus is readily amenable to chemical screens allowing us to uncover novel gene-environment interactions during orofacial development, as well as to define underlying mechanisms governing such interactions. In conclusion, we are utilizing Xenopus in new and innovative ways to contribute to craniofacial research.

PubMed ID: 26778163
PMC ID: PMC4798872
Article link: Semin Cell Dev Biol
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: actb cdh1 fn1 grap2 rab40b
GO keywords: retinoic acid receptor activity [+]

Disease Ontology terms: orofacial cleft
Phenotypes: Xla Wt + BMS453 (fig.4.b, d)

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Abramyan, Diversity in primary palate ontogeny of amniotes revealed with 3D imaging. 2015, Pubmed