The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 46: 333 - 336 (2002)

Vol 46, Issue 3

TGF-beta3 is required for the adhesion and intercalation of medial edge epithelial cells during palate fusion

Published: 1 May 2002

Consuelo Tudela, Miguel-Angel Formoso, Tamara Martínez, Raquel Pérez, Marta Aparicio, Carmen Maestro, Aurora Del Río, Elena Martínez, Mark Ferguson and Concepción Martínez-Alvarez

Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas I, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.


Transforming growth factor-beta3 (TGF-beta3) plays a critical role during palate development, since mutations of the TGF-beta3 gene give rise to cleft palate in both humans and mice. Striking alterations have been reported in the behaviour and differentiation of medial edge epithelial (MEE) cells in TGF-beta3 knockout mouse palates. In the present paper, we provide evidence of alterations in MEE intercellular adhesion in TGF-beta3 -/- mouse palates using immunohistochemistry with monoclonal antibodies to a panel of cell adhesion and cytoskeletal molecules including E-cadherin, alpha and beta catenin, beta actin, vinculin and beta2 integrin. In vitro labeling of opposing MEE with two different lipophilic markers and subsequent analysis by confocal microscopy revealed that wild type MEE cells intercalate as soon as the midline epithelial seam forms. This finding indicates that the palate may elongate in a dorso-ventral direction by means of convergent extension, as occurs in other embryonic developmental processes. In contrast, this intercalation does not occur in the TGF-beta3 -/- MEE but it can be rescued by the exogenous addition of TGF-beta3. Thus, the substantial alteration of MEE intercellular adhesion observed in TGF-beta3 -/- palates may account for the defect in palatal shelf adhesion and the formation of cleft palate.

Full text in web format is not available for this article. Please download the PDF version.