Gene expression profiling in the rat cranial suture
Free Tissue Flaps
Reconstructive Surgical Procedures
Although many theories have attempted to explain the etiopathogenesis of premature cranial suture fusion, which results in craniosynostosis, recent studies have focused on the role of growth factors and receptors. Using a well-established model of cranial suture biology, the authors developed a novel approach to quantitatively analyze the gene expression profiles of candidate cranial suture growth factors and their receptors. We collected suture mesenchyme and adjacent osteogenic fronts from Sprague-Dawley rats at postnatal days 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 35. RNA was extracted from posterior frontal (PF) and sagittal (SAG) sutures, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed for cranial suture candidate cytokines BMP2, BMP3, BMP4, FGF-2, FGFR1, FGFR2, FGFR4, TGF-betaRI, TGF-betaRII, and TGF-betaRIII. The authors confirmed quantitative RT-PCR results with Southern and dot blot analyses. Suture growth factor and receptor expression levels changed significantly with time. Expression levels decreased toward baseline in the SAG suture by day 35. There was a marked difference in FGFR1, FGF-2, TGF-betaRI, and TGF-betaRII expression levels when comparing the fusing PF and nonfusing SAG sutures. Although FGF-2 ligand expression was low, FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) levels were markedly elevated with a bimodal expression pattern in both PF and SAG similar to that of BMP2, BMP3, and BMP4. Although there were statistically significant differences in TGF-betaRI and TGF-betaRII expression in the PF and SAG sutures, TGF-betaRIII levels were unchanged. The authors report a novel approach to cranial suture growth factor/receptor profiling and confirm their results with standard analytic tools. The data confirm, quantify, and extend the results of previously published studies. By quantifying the gene expression profiles of normal cranial suture biology, we may begin to understand the aberrant growth factor cascades of craniosynostosis and devise targeted therapeutic interventions that can alter the course of this malady.