Notch receptor and Notch ligand expression in developing avian cartilage

J Anat. 2009 Aug;215(2):159-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01089.x. Epub 2009 May 28.


The development of limb cartilage involves complex signalling pathways allowing the formation of distinct segments of cartilage that are maintained in the fully developed joint. In this study, we investigated the Notch signalling pathway and its role in cartilage development. The differential distribution of the Notch signalling family of receptors and their corresponding ligands in developing avian (gallus gallus) cartilage revealed expression of Notch 1, Delta 1, Jagged 1 and Jagged 2 in all limb mesenchyme cells at the early stages of cartilage anlagen development, which were subsequently restricted to the developing cartilage element. Expression of both Notch 1 and Jagged 1 became increasingly restricted to the surface cartilage once joint cavity formation had occurred. Delta 1 and Jagged 1 were restricted to a layer of cells underneath the surface cartilage and were also observed in the hypertrophic chondrocytes, where Notch 1 expression was evident in stage 40-44 limbs. Notch 2, Notch 3 and Notch 4 were not evident in early stage limbs but were present after cavitation, although expression was lost in late stage limbs (stage 40-44). We also demonstrated that inhibition of the Notch pathway leads to altered Notch receptor expression, disrupting cartilage differentiation. From these data it is clear that Notch signalling is a necessary and critical factor in regulating cell fate decisions allowing controlled chondrogenesis, elongation and subsequent maintenance of limb cartilage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / embryology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Extremities / embryology
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Serrate-Jagged Proteins
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Serrate-Jagged Proteins
  • delta protein