About face: Signals and genes controlling jaw patterning and identity in vertebrates

Joy M. Richman, Sang Hwy Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


The embryonic vertebrate face is composed of similarly sized buds of neural crest-derived mesenchyme encased in epithelium. These buds or facial prominences grow and fuse together to give the postnatal morphology characteristic of each species. Here we review the role of neural crest cells and foregut endoderm in differentiating facial features. We relate the developing facial prominences to the skeletal structure of the face and review the signals and genes that have been shown to play an important role in facial morphogenesis. We also examine two experiments one at the genetic level and one at the signal level in which transformation of facial prominences and subsequent change of jaw identity was induced. We propose that signals such as retinoids and BMPs and downstream transcription factors such as Distal-less related genes specify jaw identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-568
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jun 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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