The medial epithelial seam (MES) between the palatal shelves degrades during palatal fusion to achieve the confluence of palatal mesenchyme. Cellular mechanisms underlying the degradation of MES have been proposed, such as apoptosis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration of medial edge epithelia (MEE). Extracellular matrix components have been shown to play an important role in EMT in many model systems. Periostin (also known as osteoblast-specific factor-2) is a secreted mesenchymal extracellular matrix component that affects the ability of cells to migrate and/or facilitates EMT during both embryonic development and pathologic conditions. In this study, we evaluated the spatiotemporal expression patterns of periostin during mouse palatal fusion by in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence. Periostin mRNA and protein were present in the palatal mesenchyme, the protein being distributed in a fine fibrillar network and in the basement membrane, but absent from the epithelium. During MES degradation, the protein was strongly expressed in the basement membrane underlying the MES and in some select MEE. Confocal microscopic analysis using an EMT marker, twist1, and an epithelial marker, cytokeratin 14, provided evidence that select MEE were undergoing EMT in association with periostin. Moreover, the major extracellular matrix molecules in basement membrane, laminin and collagen type IV were degraded earlier than periostin. The result is that select MEE establish interactions with periostin in the mesenchymal extracellular matrix, and these new cell-matrix interactions may regulate MEE transdifferentiation during palatal fusion.
- Epithelial matrix
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Mesenchymal matrix
- Palatal fusion
ASJC Scopus subject areas