Signaling integration in the rugae growth zone directs sequential SHH signaling center formation during the rostral outgrowth of the palate

Dev Biol. 2009 Dec 1;336(1):53-67. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.09.028. Epub 2009 Sep 25.


Evolution of facial morphology arises from variation in the activity of developmental regulatory networks that guide the formation of specific craniofacial elements. Importantly, the acquisition of novel morphology must be integrated with a phylogenetically inherited developmental program. We have identified a unique region of the secondary palate associated with the periodic formation of rugae during the rostral outgrowth of the face. Rugae function as SHH signaling centers to pattern the elongating palatal shelves. We have found that a network of signaling genes and transcription factors is spatially organized relative to palatal rugae. Additionally, the first formed ruga is strategically positioned at the presumptive junction of the future hard and soft palate that defines anterior-posterior differences in regional growth, mesenchymal gene expression, and cell fate. We propose a molecular circuit integrating FGF and BMP signaling to control proliferation and differentiation during the sequential formation of rugae and inter-rugae domains in the palatal epithelium. The loss of p63 and Sostdc1 expression and failed rugae differentiation highlight that coordinated epithelial-mesenchymal signaling is lost in the Fgf10 mutant palate. Our results establish a genetic program that reiteratively organizes signaling domains to coordinate the growth of the secondary palate with the elongating midfacial complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 / physiology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / genetics*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Hedgehog Proteins / genetics*
  • Hedgehog Proteins / physiology
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Palate / embryology
  • Palate / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • FGF10 protein, human
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Shh protein, mouse