A novel ciliopathic skull defect arising from excess neural crest

Jacqueline M. Tabler, Christopher P. Rice, Karen J. Liu*, John Wallingford

*Corresponding author for this work

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The skull is essential for protecting the brain from damage, and birth defects involving disorganization of skull bones are common. However, the developmental trajectories and molecular etiologies by which many craniofacial phenotypes arise remain poorly understood. Here, we report a novel skull defect in ciliopathic Fuz mutant mice in which only a single bone pair encases the forebrain, instead of the usual paired frontal and parietal bones. Through genetic lineage analysis, we show that this defect stems from a massive expansion of the neural crest-derived frontal bone. This expansion occurs at the expense of the mesodermally-derived parietal bones, which are either severely reduced or absent. A similar, though less severe, phenotype was observed in Gli3 mutant mice, consistent with a role for Gli3 in cilia-mediated signaling. Excess crest has also been shown to drive defective palate morphogenesis in ciliopathic mice, and that defect is ameliorated by reduction of fgf8 gene dosage. Strikingly, skull defects in Fuz mutant mice are also rescued by loss of one allele of fgf8, suggesting a potential route to therapy. In sum, this work is significant for revealing a novel skull defect with a previously un-described developmental etiology and for suggesting a common developmental origin for skull and palate defects in ciliopathies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Early online date6 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2016


  • Cilia
  • ciliopathy
  • Fuz
  • Fgf8
  • neural crest
  • craniofacial
  • skull
  • calvaria
  • coronal suture
  • Greig cephalopolysyndactyly
  • morphogenesis
  • craniosynostosis
  • Wnt1
  • Mesp1
  • mouse

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