Spatial and temporal analysis of gene expression during growth and fusion of the mouse facial prominences

Weiguo Feng, Sonia M. Leach, Hannah Tipney, Tzulip Phang, Mark Geraci, Richard A. Spritz, Lawrence E. Hunter, Trevor Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Orofacial malformations resulting from genetic and/or environmental causes are frequent human birth defects yet their etiology is often unclear because of insufficient information concerning the molecular, cellular and morphogenetic processes responsible for normal facial development. We have, therefore, derived a comprehensive expression dataset for mouse orofacial development, interrogating three distinct regions - the mandibular, maxillary and frontonasal prominences. To capture the dynamic changes in the transcriptome during face formation, we sampled five time points between E10.5-E12.5, spanning the developmental period from establishment of the prominences to their fusion to form the mature facial platform. Seven independent biological replicates were used for each sample ensuring robustness and quality of the dataset. Here, we provide a general overview of the dataset, characterizing aspects of gene expression changes at both the spatial and temporal level. Considerable coordinate regulation occurs across the three prominences during this period of facial growth and morphogenesis, with a switch from expression of genes involved in cell proliferation to those associated with differentiation. An accompanying shift in the expression of polycomb and trithorax genes presumably maintains appropriate patterns of gene expression in precursor or differentiated cells, respectively. Superimposed on the many coordinated changes are prominence-specific differences in the expression of genes encoding transcription factors, extracellular matrix components, and signaling molecules. Thus, the elaboration of each prominence will be driven by particular combinations of transcription factors coupled with specific cell:cell and cell:matrix interactions. The dataset also reveals several prominence-specific genes not previously associated with orofacial development, a subset of which we externally validate. Several of these latter genes are components of bidirectional transcription units that likely share cis-acting sequences with well-characterized genes. Overall, our studies provide a valuable resource for probing orofacial development and a robust dataset for bioinformatic analysis of spatial and temporal gene expression changes during embryogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8066
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Feng, W., Leach, S. M., Tipney, H., Phang, T., Geraci, M., Spritz, R. A., Hunter, L. E., & Williams, T. (2009). Spatial and temporal analysis of gene expression during growth and fusion of the mouse facial prominences. PLoS ONE, 4(12), [e8066].