Activation of FGF signaling mediates proliferative and osteogenic differences between neural crest derived frontal and mesoderm parietal derived bone

PLoS One. 2010 Nov 18;5(11):e14033. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014033.


Background: As a culmination of efforts over the last years, our knowledge of the embryonic origins of the mammalian frontal and parietal cranial bones is unambiguous. Progenitor cells that subsequently give rise to frontal bone are of neural crest origin, while parietal bone progenitors arise from paraxial mesoderm. Given the unique qualities of neural crest cells and the clear delineation of the embryonic origins of the calvarial bones, we sought to determine whether mouse neural crest derived frontal bone differs in biology from mesoderm derived parietal bone.

Methods: BrdU incorporation, immunoblotting and osteogenic differentiation assays were performed to investigate the proliferative rate and osteogenic potential of embryonic and postnatal osteoblasts derived from mouse frontal and parietal bones. Co-culture experiments and treatment with conditioned medium harvested from both types of osteoblasts were performed to investigate potential interactions between the two different tissue origin osteoblasts. Immunoblotting techniques were used to investigate the endogenous level of FGF-2 and the activation of three major FGF signaling pathways. Knockdown of FGF Receptor 1 (FgfR1) was employed to inactivate the FGF signaling.

Results: Our results demonstrated that striking differences in cell proliferation and osteogenic differentiation between the frontal and parietal bone can be detected already at embryonic stages. The greater proliferation rate, as well as osteogenic capacity of frontal bone derived osteoblasts, were paralleled by an elevated level of FGF-2 protein synthesis. Moreover, an enhanced activation of FGF-signaling pathways was observed in frontal bone derived osteoblasts. Finally, the greater osteogenic potential of frontal derived osteoblasts was dramatically impaired by knocking down FgfR1.

Conclusions: Osteoblasts from mouse neural crest derived frontal bone displayed a greater proliferative and osteogenic potential and endogenous enhanced activation of FGF signaling compared to osteoblasts from mesoderm derived parietal bone. FGF signaling plays a key role in determining biological differences between the two types of osteoblasts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / pharmacology
  • Frontal Bone / cytology
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mice
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Parietal Bone / cytology
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Fgfr1 protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1