The canonical Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway regulates Fgf signaling for early facial development

Yongping Wang, Lanying Song, Chengji Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The canonical Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway has implications in early facial development; yet, its function and signaling mechanism remain poorly understood. We report here that the frontonasal and upper jaw primordia cannot be formed after conditional ablation of ß-catenin with Foxg1-Cre mice in the facial ectoderm and the adjacent telencephalic neuroepithelium. Gene expression of several cell-survival and patterning factors, including Fgf8, Fgf3, and Fgf17, is dramatically diminished in the anterior neural ridge (ANR, a rostral signaling center) and/or the adjacent frontonasal ectoderm of the ß-catenin conditional mutant mice. In addition, Shh expression is diminished in the ventral telencephalon of the mutants, while Tcfap2a expression is less affected in the facial primordia. Apoptosis occurs robustly in the rostral head tissues following inactivation of Fgf signaling in the conditional mutants. Consequently, the upper jaw, nasal, ocular and telencephalic structures are absent, but the tongue and mandible are relatively developed in the conditional mutants at birth. Using molecular biological approaches, we demonstrate that the Fgf8 gene is transcriptionally targeted by Wnt/ß-catenin signaling during early facial and forebrain development. Furthermore, we show that conditional gain-of-function of ß-catenin signaling causes drastic upregulation of Fgf8 mRNA in the ANR and the entire facial ectoderm, which also arrests facial and forebrain development. Taken together, our results suggest that canonical Wnt/ß-catenin signaling is required for early development of the mammalian face and related head structures, which mainly or partly acts through the initiation and modulation of balanced Fgf signaling activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2011


  • Anterior neural ridge (ANR)
  • Facial ectoderm
  • Fgf8
  • Foxg1-Cre
  • Mice
  • Wnt/ß-catenin signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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