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The transient expression of type II collagen at tissue interfaces during mammalian craniofacial development.

Wood A., Ashhurst D.E., Corbett A., Thorogood P.

Using immunocytochemical techniques, the spatiotemporal distribution of the major collagen isoform of cartilage, type II collagen, has been investigated during early craniofacial development in the mouse embryo. Early and transient expression was associated with the otic and optic vesicles, the ventrolateral surfaces of the developing brain, olfactory conchi, endocardial and mesocardial tissues, the lateral and basal surfaces of the pharyngeal endoderm and beneath the ectoderm of the branchial arches. A number of these locations are sites of epithelial-mesenchymal tissue interaction believed to generate the component parts of the chondrocranium; here, type II collagen appears transiently in advance of overt chondrogenesis in the mesenchyme. At such sites, immunofluorescence is typically localised along the basal surface of the epithelial partner, with the strongest reaction detected between the basal aspects of the otic and rhombencephalic epithelia. Immunoelectron microscopy, using pre-embedding immunostaining and a protein G-gold technique, reveals that the type II collagen is adjacent to, but not integral with, the basal laminae. Gold particles are clearly associated with 10-15 nm fibrils of the extracellular matrix in the reticulate lamina region. The pattern of type II collagen expression in the mouse closely correlates with that demonstrated previously in the quail, indicating a high degree of phylogenetic conservation between these two vertebrate species. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the pattern of epithelial secretion of type II collagen, or a coexpressed matrix molecule, constitutes a morphogenetic signal, realised as a matrix-mediated tissue interaction, and specifying the form of the vertebrate chondrocranium. Three-dimensional reconstruction of early type II collagen distribution, and of the subsequent chondrocranial cartilages, reveals that chondrocranial form can be derived from a 'pre-pattern' of epithelially derived type II collagen expressed at epithelial-mesenchymal tissue interfaces.

Development 111:955-968(1991) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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