A dysmorphic mouse model reveals developmental interactions of chondrocranium and dermatocranium

Susan M. Motch Perrine, M. Kathleen Pitirri, Emily L. Durham, Mizuho Kawasaki, Hao Zheng, Danny Z. Chen, Kazuhiko Kawasaki, Joan T. Richtsmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The cranial endo and dermal skeletons, which comprise the vertebrate skull, evolved independently over 470 million years ago and form separately during embryogenesis. In mammals, much of the cartilaginous chondrocranium is transient, undergoing endochondral ossification or disappearing, so its role in skull morphogenesis is not well studied and it remains an enigmatic structure. We provide complete 3D reconstructions of the laboratory mouse chondrocranium from embryonic day (E) 13.5 through E17.5 using a novel methodology of uncertainty-guided segmentation of phosphotungstic enhanced 3D micro-computed tomography images with sparse annotation. We evaluate the embryonic mouse chondrocranium and dermatocranium in 3D, and delineate the effects of a Fgfr2 variant on embryonic chondrocranial cartilages and on their association with forming dermal bones using the Fgfr2cC342Y/+ Crouzon syndrome mouse. We show that the dermatocranium develops outside of and in shapes that conform to the chondrocranium. Results reveal direct effects of the Fgfr2 variant on embryonic cartilage, on chondrocranium morphology, and on the association between chondrocranium and dermatocranium development. Histologically, we observe a trend of relatively more chondrocytes, larger chondrocytes, and/or more matrix in the Fgfr2cC342Y/+ embryos at all timepoints before the chondrocranium begins to disintegrate at E16.5. The chondrocrania and forming dermatocrania of Fgfr2cC342Y/+ embryos are relatively large, but a contrasting trend begins at E16.5 and continues into early postnatal (P0 and P2) timepoints, with the skulls of older Fgfr2cC342Y/+ mice reduced in most dimensions compared to Fgfr2c+/+ littermates. Our findings have implications for the study and treatment of human craniofacial disease, for understanding the impact of chondrocranial morphology on skull growth, and potentially on the evolution of skull morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere76653
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'A dysmorphic mouse model reveals developmental interactions of chondrocranium and dermatocranium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this