Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism Leading To Cleft Palate Discovered

Date:
February 13, 2008
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
By creating a genetic mutation in zebrafish, scientists say they've discovered a previously unknown mechanism for cleft palate, a common birth defect in humans that has challenged medical professionals for centuries. Tiny gene products that regulate specific cell traffic of a key protein are important in this condition.

Zebrafish face with cleft palate.
Credit: Courtesy of John Postlethwait

By creating a genetic mutation in zebrafish, University of Oregon scientists say they've discovered a previously unknown mechanism for cleft palate, a common birth defect in humans that has challenged medical professionals for centuries.

Related Articles


Many molecular pathways in zebrafish are present in humans and other vertebrates. By studying the induced mutation in zebrafish, the 10-member research team isolated a disruption in early developmental signaling involving Pdgf, a platelet-derived growth-factor protein, and a microRNA known as Mirn140, the researchers write in a paper posted online in advance of regular publication in the journal Nature Genetics.

Mutant zebrafish lacking Pdgf had cleft palate similar to many human babies, showing that this growth factor helps to organize cells that make the palate. It came as a surprise that zebrafish into which the investigators had injected too much Mirn140 also had cleft palate.

MicroRNAs are small gene products, found to be involved in gene expression, that were first described in 1993 by researchers at Harvard University. The term microRNA was introduced in when these single-strand RNA molecules about nucleotides in length were more fully detailed in Science in October 2001 by Gary Ruvkun of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Mirn140, when operating normally, allows for normal cell signaling by the Pdgfra protein that properly triggers cell migrations necessary for correct oral-cranial building. The researchers showed that Mirn140 blocks the cell's expression of Pdgfra. Thus, cleft palate can result from too little Pdgfra that occurs because of either a mutation in the Pdgfra gene or too much Mirn140.

"We showed that this microRNA regulates the expression of the gene by controlling the migration of precursor cells to the palate-forming area," said principal investigator John H. Postlethwait, a professor of biology and member of the UO's Institute of Molecular Biology and Institute of Neuroscience. "This is a novel mechanism never before described."

A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not fuse, or join together, during a baby's early development. Cleft palate can negatively affect speech production, feeding, maxillofacial growth and dentition.

The first known attempt to correct the defect occurred in 500 A.D. The defect occurs with or without cleft lip (a separation of the two sides of the lip), on average, in 1 in 600 newborns, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation, but can vary by race. The highest incidence (3.6 per 1,000 births) occurs in American Indians. Palate formation is thought to begin after five weeks of gestation in humans with defects becoming visible as early as 17 weeks.

The findings provide a new window into the mechanisms involved in cleft palate and craniofacial defects, but researchers caution that the findings don't point toward new clinical applications.

"Further exploration of how microRNAs and other factors modulate signaling pathways such as the Pdgf pathway during palatogenesis will assuredly continue to provide insights into the cause of, and possible treatments for, human craniofacial disease," the authors conclude.

Co-authors of the Nature Genetics paper with Postlethwait were: postdoctoral researcher Johann K. Eberhart; graduate students Xinjun He and Hao Song; research assistant Mary E. Swartz; research associate Yi-Lin Yan; undergraduate students Taylor C. Boling and Allison K. Kunerth; former graduate student Macie B. Walker; and Charles B. Kimmel, professor emeritus of biology. Eberhart and He were team leaders on the project, but all co-authors contributed equally.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and U.S. National Center for Research Resources funded the research through grants to Postlethwait, Eberhart and Kimmel.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Mechanism Leading To Cleft Palate Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211142023.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2008, February 13). Mechanism Leading To Cleft Palate Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211142023.htm
University of Oregon. "Mechanism Leading To Cleft Palate Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211142023.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) At least 1 in 5,000 U.S. babies are born each year with intersex conditions _ ambiguous genitals because of genetic glitches or hormone problems. Secrecy and surgery are common. But some doctors and activists are trying to change things. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins