Shh and Fgf8 act synergistically to drive cartilage outgrowth during cranial development

Dev Biol. 2004 Sep 1;273(1):134-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.05.028.


Much of the skeleton and connective tissue of the vertebrate head is derived from cranial neural crest. During development, cranial neural crest cells migrate from the dorsal neural tube to populate the forming face and pharyngeal arches. Fgf8 and Shh, signaling molecules known to be important for craniofacial development, are expressed in distinct domains in the developing face. Specifically, in chick embryos these molecules are expressed in adjacent but non-overlapping patterns in the epithelium covering crest-derived mesenchyme that will give rise to the skeletal projections of the upper and lower beaks. It has been suggested that these molecules play important roles in patterning the developing face. Here, we directly examine the ability of FGF8 and SHH signaling, singly and in combination, to regulate cranial skeletogenesis, both in vitro and in vivo. We find that SHH and FGF8 have strong synergistic effects on chondrogenesis in vitro and are sufficient to promote outgrowth and chondrogenesis in vivo, suggesting a very specific role for these molecules in producing the elongated beak structures during chick facial development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beak / embryology
  • Cartilage / embryology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 8
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Crest / embryology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Skull / embryology*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transgenes


  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 8
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors