Vgll2a is required for neural crest cell survival during zebrafish craniofacial development

Christopher W. Johnson, Laura Hernandez-Lagunas, Weiguo Feng, Vida Senkus Melvin, Trevor J. Williams, Kristin Bruk Artinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Invertebrate and vertebrate vestigial (vg) and vestigial-like (VGLL) genes are involved in embryonic patterning and cell fate determination. These genes encode cofactors that interact with members of the Scalloped/TEAD family of transcription factors and modulate their activity. We have previously shown that, in mice, Vgll2 is differentially expressed in the developing facial prominences. In this study, we show that the zebrafish ortholog vgll2a is expressed in the pharyngeal endoderm and ectoderm surrounding the neural crest derived mesenchyme of the pharyngeal arches. Moreover, both the FGF and retinoic acid (RA) signaling pathways, which are critical components of the hierarchy controlling craniofacial patterning, regulate this domain of vgll2a expression. Consistent with these observations, vgll2a is required within the pharyngeal endoderm for NCC survival and pharyngeal cartilage development. Specifically, knockdown of Vgll2a in zebrafish embryos using Morpholino injection results in increased cell death within the pharyngeal arches, aberrant endodermal pouch morphogenesis, and hypoplastic cranial cartilages. Overall, our data reveal a novel non-cell autonomous role for Vgll2a in development of the NCC-derived vertebrate craniofacial skeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-281
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sarah Wise and David Stock for help with sectioning and the gift of the fgf10a probe, Kristi LaMonica and Keith Anderson for help with confocal microscopy, Lee Niswander for use of her Imaris software, My Trang Nguyen for help with vgll2b expression, Morgan Singleton for fish care, Bruce Appel for the sharing the tp53 M214K mutant fish line, and David Clouthier for critically reading the manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the support of this research by NIH R21 DE018005 to T.W. and K.B.A., NIH R01 DE017699 to K.B.A, and NIH T32 GM08730 and NIH F31 DE19607 to C.W.J.


  • Cell Death
  • Craniofacial
  • FGF
  • Retinoic Acid
  • Vestigial-like
  • Vgl-2
  • VITO-1
  • Zebrafish


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