Elucidating timing and function of endothelin-A receptor signaling during craniofacial development using neural crest cell-specific gene deletion and receptor antagonism. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cranial neural crest cells (NCCs) play an intimate role in craniofacial development. Multiple signaling cascades participate in patterning cranial NCCs, some of which are regulated by endothelin-A receptor (Ednra) signaling. Ednra(-/-) embryos die at birth from severe craniofacial defects resulting from disruption of neural crest cell patterning and differentiation. These defects include homeotic transformation of lower jaw structures into upper jaw-like structures, suggesting that some cephalic NCCs alter their "identity" in the absence of Ednra signaling. To elucidate the temporal necessity for Ednra signaling in vivo, we undertook two strategies. We first used a conditional knockout strategy in which mice containing a conditionally targeted Ednra allele (Ednra(fl)) were bred with mice from the Hand2-Cre and Wnt1-Cre transgenic mouse strains, two strains in which Cre expression occurs at different time periods within cranial NCCs. In our second approach, we used an Ednra-specific antagonist to treat wild type pregnant mice between embryonic days E8.0 and E10.0, a time frame encompassing the early migration and proliferation of cranial NCCs. The combined results suggest that Ednra function is crucial for NCC development between E8.25 and E9.0, a time period encompassing the arrival of NCCs in the arches and/or early post-migratory patterning. After this time period, Ednra signaling is dispensable. Interestingly, middle ear structures are enlarged and malformed in a majority of Ednra(fl/fl);Wnt1-Cre embryos, instead resembling structures found in extinct predecessors of mammals. These observations suggest that the advent of Ednra signaling in cranial NCCs may have been a crucial event in the evolution of the mammalian middle ear ossicles.

published proceedings

  • Dev Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Ruest, L., & Clouthier, D. E.

citation count

  • 49

complete list of authors

  • Ruest, Louis-Bruno||Clouthier, David E

publication date

  • April 2009