Human faces exhibit enormous variation. When pathological conditions are superimposed on normal variation, a nearly unbroken series of facial morphologies is produced. When viewed in full, this spectrum ranges from cyclopia and hypotelorism to hypertelorism and facial duplications. Decreased Hedgehog pathway activity causes holoprosencephaly and hypotelorism. Here, we show that excessive Hedgehog activity, caused by truncating the primary cilia on cranial neural crest cells, causes hypertelorism and frontonasal dysplasia (FND). Elimination of the intraflagellar transport protein Kif3a leads to excessive Hedgehog responsiveness in facial mesenchyme, which is accompanied by broader expression domains of Gli1, Ptc and Shh, and reduced expression domains of Gli3. Furthermore, broader domains of Gli1 expression correspond to areas of enhanced neural crest cell proliferation in the facial prominences of Kif3a conditional knockouts. Avian Talpid embryos that lack primary cilia exhibit similar molecular changes and similar facial phenotypes. Collectively, these data support our hypothesis that a severe narrowing of the facial midline and excessive expansion of the facial midline are both attributable to disruptions in Hedgehog pathway activity. These data also raise the possibility that genes encoding ciliary proteins are candidates for human conditions of hypertelorism and FNDs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology