Hand transcription factors cooperatively regulate development of the distal midline mesenchyme

Ana C. Barbosa, Noriko Funato, Shelby Chapman, Marc D. McKee, James A. Richardson, Eric N. Olson, Hiromi Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Hand proteins are evolutionally conserved basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors implicated in development of neural crest-derived tissues, heart and limb. Hand1 is expressed in the distal (ventral) zone of the branchial arches, whereas the Hand2 expression domain extends ventrolaterally to occupy two-thirds of the mandibular arch. To circumvent the early embryonic lethality of Hand1 or Hand2-null embryos and to examine their roles in neural crest development, we generated mice with neural crest-specific deletion of Hand1 and various combinations of mutant alleles of Hand2. Ablation of Hand1 alone in neural crest cells did not affect embryonic development, however, further removing one Hand2 allele or deleting the ventrolateral branchial arch expression of Hand2 led to a novel phenotype presumably due to impaired growth of the distal midline mesenchyme. Although we failed to detect changes in proliferation or apoptosis between the distal mandibular arch of wild-type and Hand1/Hand2 compound mutants at embryonic day (E)10.5, dysregulation of Pax9, Msx2 and Prx2 was observed in the distal mesenchyme at E12.5. In addition, the inter-dental mesenchyme and distal symphysis of Meckel's cartilage became hypoplastic, resulting in the formation of a single fused lower incisor within the hypoplastic fused mandible. These findings demonstrate the importance of Hand transcription factors in the transcriptional circuitry of craniofacial and tooth development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


  • Cranofacial
  • Incisor
  • Mandible
  • Neural crest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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