The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 36: 255 - 263 (1992)

Vol 36, Issue 2

Desmin expression during early mouse tongue morphogenesis

Published: 1 June 1992

M L Mayo, P Bringas, V Santos, L Shum and H C Slavkin

Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, University of Southern California, School of Dentistry, Los Angeles 90033.


Occipital somites provide progenitor cells for craniofacial muscle development including the tongue musculature. Serum-derived factors are assumed to be pre-requisite for myogenesis in vitro. To test these assertions, we designed experiments to determine whether early mouse tongue development in general, and desmin localization in particular, were expressed during the development of embryonic mouse first branchial arch explants cultured in serumless, chemically-defined medium. Immunohistochemical techniques determined the chronology and positions of desmin expression during early craniofacial development. Occipital somites expressed desmin at E9 (9 days +/- 2 h post-fertilization, 18-20 somites). A discrete cell migration pathway initiating in the somites and terminating in the lateral lingual processes of the tongue primordium was defined based upon desmin expression patterns in E9-E11 embryos and computer-assisted three dimensional reconstructions. The in vitro model system was permissive for tongue morphogenesis, allowing development and fusion of the lateral lingual processes with the tuberculum impar. During culture myoblasts were not observed to fuse into myotubes with sarcomeric assembly, even though explant myoblasts produced muscle-specific protein. E10 explants cultured for 9 days demonstrated a five-fold increase in cell number that expressed desmin (P less than 0.05) when compared to the E10 starting material. We interpret these results to indicate that the tongue myogenic cell lineage was determined between E8 and E11, and that this resident population expanded within explants cultured in serumless medium by several explanations: (i) cells other than progenitor myoblasts (e.g., satellite cells) were induced to become myoblasts, and/or (ii) progenitor myoblasts within the original explants expanded by cell division in the absence of serum factors.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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