The formation of mammalian secondary palate requires a series of developmental events such as growth, elevation, and fusion. Despite recent advances in the field of palate development, the process of palate elevation remains poorly understood. The current consensus on palate elevation is that the distal end of the vertical palatal shelf corresponds to the medial edge of the elevated horizontal palatal shelf. We provide evidence suggesting that the prospective medial edge of the vertical palate is located toward the interior side (the side adjacent to the tongue), instead of the distal end, of the vertical palatal shelf and that the horizontal palatal axis is generated through palatal outgrowth from the side of the vertical palatal shelf rather than rotating the pre-existing vertical axis orthogonally. Because palate elevation represents a classic example of embryonic tissue re-orientation, our findings here may also shed light on the process of tissue re-orientation in general.
(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.