The Morphogenesis of Cranial Sutures in Zebrafish

Topczewska, J. M.; Shoela, R. A.; Tomaszewski, J. P.; Mirmira, R. B.; Gosain, A. K.

PLoS One. 2016 Nov 10; 11(11):e0165775

Abstract

Using morphological, histological, and TEM analyses of the cranium, we provide a detailed description of bone and suture growth in zebrafish. Based on expression patterns and localization, we identified osteoblasts at different degrees of maturation. Our data confirm that, unlike in humans, zebrafish cranial sutures maintain lifelong patency to sustain skull growth. The cranial vault develops in a coordinated manner resulting in a structure that protects the brain. The zebrafish cranial roof parallels that of higher vertebrates and contains five major bones: one pair of frontal bones, one pair of parietal bones, and the supraoccipital bone. Parietal and frontal bones are formed by intramembranous ossification within a layer of mesenchyme positioned between the dermal mesenchyme and meninges surrounding the brain. The supraoccipital bone has an endochondral origin. Cranial bones are separated by connective tissue with a distinctive architecture of osteogenic cells and collagen fibrils. Here we show RNA in situ hybridization for col1a1a, col2a1a, col10a1, bglap/osteocalcin, fgfr1a, fgfr1b, fgfr2, fgfr3, foxq1, twist2, twist3, runx2a, runx2b, sp7/osterix, and spp1/ osteopontin, indicating that the expression of genes involved in suture development in mammals is preserved in zebrafish. We also present methods for examining the cranium and its sutures, which permit the study of the mechanisms involved in suture patency as well as their pathological obliteration. The model we develop has implications for the study of human disorders, including craniosynostosis, which affects 1 in 2,500 live births.

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