Achondroplasia, the most common chondrodysplasia in humans, is caused by one of two gain of function mutations localized in the transmembrane domain of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) leading to constitutive activation of FGFR3 and subsequent growth plate cartilage and bone defects. Phenotypic features of achondroplasia include macrocephaly with frontal bossing, midface hypoplasia, disproportionate shortening of the extremities, brachydactyly with trident configuration of the hand, and bowed legs. The condition is defined primarily on postnatal effects on bone and cartilage, and embryonic development of tissues in affected individuals is not well studied. Using the Fgfr3Y367C/+ mouse model of achondroplasia, we investigated the developing chondrocranium and Meckel's cartilage (MC) at embryonic days (E)14.5 and E16.5. Sparse hand annotations of chondrocranial and MC cartilages visualized in phosphotungstic acid enhanced three-dimensional (3D) micro-computed tomography (microCT) images were used to train our automatic deep learning-based 3D segmentation model and produce 3D isosurfaces of the chondrocranium and MC. Using 3D coordinates of landmarks measured on the 3D isosurfaces, we quantified differences in the chondrocranium and MC of Fgfr3Y367C/+ mice relative to those of their unaffected littermates. Statistically significant differences in morphology and growth of the chondrocranium and MC were found, indicating direct effects of this Fgfr3 mutation on embryonic cranial and pharyngeal cartilages, which in turn can secondarily affect cranial dermal bone development. Our results support the suggestion that early therapeutic intervention during cartilage formation may lessen the effects of this condition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics