Craniofacial abnormalities often involve sutures, the growth centers of the skull. To characterize the organization and processes governing their development, we profile the murine frontal suture, a model for sutural growth and fusion, at the tissue- and single-cell level on embryonic days (E)16.5 and E18.5. For the wild-type suture, bulk RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis identifies mesenchyme-, osteogenic front-, and stage-enriched genes and biological processes, as well as alternative splicing events modifying the extracellular matrix. Single-cell RNA-seq analysis distinguishes multiple subpopulations, of which five define a mesenchyme-osteoblast differentiation trajectory and show variation along the anteroposterior axis. Similar analyses of in vivo mouse models of impaired frontal suturogenesis in Saethre-Chotzen and Apert syndromes, Twist1+/- and Fgfr2+/S252W, demonstrate distinct transcriptional changes involving angiogenesis and ribogenesis, respectively. Co-expression network analysis reveals gene expression modules from which we validate key driver genes regulating osteoblast differentiation. Our study provides a global approach to gain insights into suturogenesis.
Keywords: Fgfr2; Twist1; bone; craniofacial; craniosynostosis; differential gene expression; frontal suture; mesenchyme; metopic suture; single-cell RNA-seq.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.