Identification of distinct subpopulations of Gli1-lineage cells in the mouse mandible

Nian Zhang, William B. Barrell, Karen J. Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Hedgehog pathway gene Gli1 has been proposed to mark a subpopulation of skeletal stem cells (SSCs) in craniofacial bone. Skeletal stem cells (SSCs) are multi-potent cells crucial for the development and homeostasis of bone. Recent studies on long bones have suggested that skeletal stem cells in endochondral or intramembranous ossification sites have different differentiation capacities. However, this has not been well-defined in neural crest derived bones. Generally, the long bones are derived from mesoderm and follow an endochondral ossification model, while most of the cranial bones are neural crest (NC) in origin and follow an intramembranous ossification model. The mandible is unique: It is derived from the neural crest lineage but makes use of both modes of ossification. Early in fetal development, the mandibular body is generated by intramembranous ossification with subsequent endochondral ossification forming the condyle. The identities and properties for SSCs in these two sites remain unknown. Here, we use genetic lineage tracing in mouse to identify cells expressing the Hedgehog responsive gene Gli1, which is thought to mark the tissue resident SSCs. We track the Gli1+ cells, comparing cells within the perichondrium to those in the periosteum covering the mandibular body. In juvenile mice, these have distinct differentiation and proliferative potential. We also assess the presence of Sox10+ cells, thought to mark neural crest stem cells, but find no substantial population associated with the mandibular skeleton, suggesting that Sox10+ cells have limited contribution to maintaining postnatal mandibular bone. All together, our study indicates that the Gli1+ cells display distinct and limited differentiation capacity dependent on their regional associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Gli1
  • mandibular development
  • mouse
  • neural crest
  • skeletal stem cells


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