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Fgf8 expression defines a morphogenetic center required for olfactory neurogenesis and nasal cavity development in the mouse

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

In vertebrate olfactory epithelium (OE), neurogenesis proceeds continuously, suggesting that endogenous signals support survival and proliferation of stem and progenitor cells. We used a genetic approach to test the hypothesis that Fgf8 plays such a role in developing OE. In young embryos, Fgf8 RNA is expressed in the rim of the invaginating nasal pit (NP), in a small domain of cells that overlaps partially with that of putative OE neural stem cells later in gestation. In mutant mice in which the Fgf8 gene is inactivated in anterior neural structures, FGF-mediated signaling is strongly downregulated in both OE proper and underlying mesenchyme by day 10 of gestation. Mutants survive gestation but die at birth, lacking OE, vomeronasal organ (VNO), nasal cavity, forebrain, lower jaw, eyelids and pinnae. Analysis of mutants indicates that although initial NP formation is grossly normal, cells in the Fgf8-expressing domain undergo high levels of apoptosis, resulting in cessation of nasal cavity invagination and loss of virtually all OE neuronal cell types. These findings demonstrate that Fgf8 is crucial for proper development of the OE, nasal cavity and VNO, as well as maintenance of OE neurogenesis during prenatal development. The data suggest a model in which Fgf8 expression defines an anterior morphogenetic center, which is required not only for the sustenance and continued production of primary olfactory (OE and VNO) neural stem and progenitor cells, but also for proper morphogenesis of the entire nasal cavity.

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