Craniofacial development depends on cell-cell interactions, coordinated cellular movement and differentiation under the control of regulatory gene networks, which include the distal-less (Dlx) gene family. However, the functional significance of Dlx5 in patterning the oropharyngeal region has remained unknown. Here, we show that loss of Dlx5 leads to a shortened soft palate and an absence of the levator veli palatini, palatopharyngeus and palatoglossus muscles that are derived from the 4th pharyngeal arch (PA); however, the tensor veli palatini, derived from the 1st PA, is unaffected. Dlx5-positive cranial neural crest (CNC) cells are in direct contact with myoblasts derived from the pharyngeal mesoderm, and Dlx5 disruption leads to altered proliferation and apoptosis of CNC and muscle progenitor cells. Moreover, the FGF10 pathway is downregulated in Dlx5−/− mice, and activation of FGF10 signaling rescues CNC cell proliferation and myogenic differentiation in these mutant mice. Collectively, our results indicate that Dlx5 plays crucial roles in the patterning of the oropharyngeal region and development of muscles derived from the 4th PA mesoderm in the soft palate, likely via interactions between CNC-derived and myogenic progenitor cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology