Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

USC researchers identify alternate pathway that leads to palate development

13.08.2008
Signaling redundancy during palate and tooth formation can shed light to understanding cancer and cell biology in addition to cleft palate
(Los Angeles CA) Researchers at the University Of Southern California School Of Dentistry have uncovered another clue behind the causes of cleft palate and the process that leads to palate formation.

Cleft palate is one of the most common congenital birth defects, occurring in one out of every 700 live births. Clefts are more common in children of American Indian, Hispanic or Asian descent. While males are twice as likely to have a cleft lip, females are twice as likely to have a cleft palate.

But genes are not the only factor influencing the malformation says, Yang Chai, professor and director of the USC School of Dentistry's Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology.

Researchers around the world believe that most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors; however, a specific cause may not be discovered for every baby.

Growth factors responsible for development, including palate and tooth formation, have more than one way to direct cells to make changes, says Chai.

The Discovery by the USC team is spotlighted in the August 12 issue of Development Cell.

Chai's group, which includes fellow CCMB researchers Xun Xu, Jun Han, Yoshihiro Ito and Pablo Bringas Jr., has been specifically scrutinizing the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-ß) family's role in palate formation problems.

The TGF- ßs are not only involved in palate formation, they plays an important development role all over the body. They work by binding to cell surface receptors and activating signaling molecules within the cell. These signaling molecules then travel to the nucleus, the cell's control center, and prompt DNA expression in order to spur changes in the cell.

"For instance, we've learned that when someone has a haploid insufficiency and is missing one copy of the TGF-ß gene, he or she is more vulnerable to environmental insults that can cause cleft palate, such as drugs, smoking and alcohol," Chai says.

Smad4 is one of the main signaling molecules used in the TGF-ß pathway during palate and tooth development. Chai says his team had initially hypothesized that since irregularities in the TGF-ß gene or its cell surface receptors sparked palate malformation in experimental mouse models, knocking out the Smad4 genes would do the same.

"We found that if we blocked TGF-ß or the receptors, a cleft palate develops," he says, "But when Smad4 was blocked, normal palate epithelium still covered the palatal shelf.

The team found that p38 MAPK (mitogen activated protein kinase) can take Smad4's place in the pathway and signal DNA expression to form the palate. Normally serving as a stress-response protein and activated by environmental insults, such as ultraviolet radiation on skin cells, p38 MAPK appears to act as a "spare tire" when Smad4 function is compromised, Chai says. When either one or the other is inactivated, the palate epithelium will still form properly, failing to form only if both signaling molecules are knocked out.

P38 MAPK isn't a perfect replacement for Smad4 during oral development –when Smad4 is nonfunctional, teeth only partially form – but the results are still surprising for a molecule better known for its roles during cancer, Chai says.

Further study could have big implications not only on congenital oral birth defects like cleft palate but also on malformations and diseases in tissues throughout the body, and patients could one day be able to take advantage of new genetic counseling and treatment methods stemming from this information, he hopes.

For new parents this latest development offers hope for the future. Those individuals with a family risk of either cleft lip or cleft palate can seek counseling early on and identify craniofacial teams that will assist them in following the best treatment plans for their child.

In addition, the discovery opens up other opportunities for researchers and clinicians.

"This information is useful not just for palate and teeth but also for cancer and cell biology in general," he says. "Ultimately, we have to be translational in order to make ourselves useful to patients."

Angelica Urquijo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>