Bmp4 gene is expressed at the putative site of fusion in the midfacial region

Differentiation. 2003 Apr;71(3):228-36. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-0436.2003.710304.x.


The molecular mechanisms by which the primordia of the midface grow and fuse to form the primary palate portion of the craniofacial region are not well characterized. This is in spite of the fact that failure of growth and/or fusion of these primordia leads to the most common craniofacial birth defect in humans (i.e. clefts of the lip and/or palate). Bmp4 plays a critical role during early embryonic development and has previously been shown to play a role in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in the craniofacial region of chicks. We analyze the expression of bmp4 in mouse as the midfacial processes undergo fusion to form the primary palate. We show that bmp4 is expressed in a very distinct manner in the three midfacial processes (lateral nasal, LNP, medial nasal, MNP, and maxillary processes, MxP) that ultimately fuse to form the midface. Prior to fusion of the midfacial processes, bmp4 is expressed in the ectoderm of the LNP, MNP, and MxP in a distinct spatial and temporal manner near and at the site of fusion of the midface. Bmp4 appears to demarcate the cells in the LNP and MNP that will eventually contact and fuse with each other. As fusion of the three prominences proceeds, some bmp4 expressing cells are trapped in the fusion line. Later, the expression of bmp4 switches to the mesenchyme of the midface underlying its initial expression in the ectoderm. The switch occurs soon after fusion of the three processes. The pattern of expression in the midfacial region implicates the important role of bmp4 in mediating the fusion process, possibly through apoptosis of cells in the putative site of fusion, during midfacial morphogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Face / embryology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • BMP4 protein, human
  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins