Transcriptomics reveals complex kinetics of dorsal-ventral patterning gene expression in the mandibular arch

Genesis. 2019 Jan;57(1):e23275. doi: 10.1002/dvg.23275. Epub 2018 Dec 26.


The mandibular or first pharyngeal arch forms the upper and lower jaws in all gnathostomes. A gene regulatory network that defines ventral, intermediate, and dorsal domains along the dorsal-ventral (D-V) axis of the arch has emerged from studies in zebrafish and mice, but the temporal dynamics of this process remain unclear. To define cell fate trajectories in the arches we have performed quantitative gene expression analyses of D-V patterning genes in pharyngeal arch primordia in zebrafish and mice. Using NanoString technology to measure transcript numbers per cell directly we show that, in many cases, genes expressed in similar D-V domains and induced by similar signals vary dramatically in their temporal profiles. This suggests that cellular responses to D-V patterning signals are likely shaped by the baseline kinetics of target gene expression. Furthermore, similarities in the temporal dynamics of genes that occupy distinct pathways suggest novel shared modes of regulation. Incorporating these gene expression kinetics into our computational models for the mandibular arch improves the accuracy of patterning, and facilitates temporal comparisons between species. These data suggest that the magnitude and timing of target gene expression help diversify responses to patterning signals during craniofacial development.

Keywords: fate specification; neural crest; organogenesis; patterning; skeletal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mandible / embryology*
  • Mandible / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Organogenesis
  • Transcriptome*
  • Zebrafish