Palatogenesis depends on appropriate growth, elevation, and fusion of the palatal shelves and aberration in these processes can lead to palatal clefting. We observed a high incidence of palate clefting in mice deficient in Gli3, known for its role as a repressor in the absence of Shh signaling. In contrast with several current mouse models of cleft palate, Meckel's cartilage extension, cranial neural crest migration, palatal shelf proliferation, apoptosis, and key signaling components mediated by Shh, Bmp, Fgf, and Tgfbeta, appeared unaffected in Gli3-/- mice. Palatal clefting in Gli3-/- mice was consistently associated with tongue abnormalities such as failure to flatten and improper positioning, implicating a critical role of Gli3 and normal tongue morphogenesis for timely palatal shelf elevation and joining. Furthermore, Gli3-/- palatal shelves grown in roller cultures without tongue can fuse suggesting that the abnormal tongue is likely an impediment for palatal shelf joining in Gli3-/- mutants.
Copyright (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.