Exploring the link between prenatal nutrition and congenital craniofacial malformations

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A caller study published successful Nature Communications conducted a broad genome-wide analysis, utilizing CAGE-sequencing connected nan facial mesenchyme of quality embryos and comparing nan results pinch genes linked to facial quality by GWAS, to understand nan analyzable improvement of craniofacial skeletal structures and amended treatments for congenital craniofacial malformations.

 SeventyFour/Shutterstock.comStudy: The level of macromolecule successful nan maternal murine fare modulates nan facial quality of nan offspring via mTORC1 signaling. Image Credit: SeventyFour/Shutterstock.com


Facial nickname is simply a important facet of astir societal communications successful humans, and congenital craniofacial malformations profoundly effect societal interactions. The viscerocranium harbors important structures and supports sensory organs. The interplay betwixt genetic, environmental, and epigenetic factors forms nan craniofacial skeleton.

Alcohol depletion during gestation is simply a known facet influencing facial morphogenesis. The viscerocranium forms from neural crest compartment (NCC) descendants successful each Gnathostomata, including mice, zebrafish, and humans.

Several NCC-derived mesenchymal subpopulations condense and differentiate into osteoblasts and chondrocytes. The shapes of nan mesenchymal chondrogenic condensations find nan shapes of craniofacial skeletal elements.

A analyzable interplay betwixt nan facial ectoderm, placodes, NCCs, neuroepithelium, and endoderm orchestrates meticulous viscerocranium sculpting; this involves continuous look changes successful thousands of genes.

Moreover, nan due migration and differentiation of NCCs and their interactions pinch neighboring tissues impact conserved signaling pathways.

The signaling pathways and related morphogens shape a strategy responsible for viscerocranium sculpting. Nevertheless, nan capacity of nan signaling pathways to consciousness and merge biology cues/signals into facial morphogenesis remains unknown.

Nutritional sensing by nan mTORC1 pathway is highly evolutionarily conserved. Further, changes successful mTORC1 activity tin power nan style of craniofacial structures.

The study and findings

The coming study hypothesized and tested that mTORC1 signaling whitethorn mediate interactions betwixt biology cues and craniofacial morphogenesis.

First, quality embryonic facial worldly was sequenced to place actively transcribed enhancers progressive successful facial improvement betwixt gestational weeks 3 and 12.

Enhancers were cross-checked and enriched against those antecedently identified. The squad noted enrichment successful phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)/ macromolecule kinase B (AKT)/mTORC1/autophagy pathway components.

Next, nan mTORC1 signaling pathway was manipulated during facial improvement to analyse nan mechanisms underlying craniofacial shaping.

To this end, mTORC1 signaling was activated by crossing tuberous sclerosis 1 (Tsc1)-floxed mice pinch SRY-box transcription facet 10 (Sox10)-CreERT2 strain, wherein a tamoxifen beat connected embryonic time 8.5 (E8.5) induces recombination successful NCCs.

Micro-computed tomography images revealed nan altered thickness of skeletal elements and insignificant developmental abnormalities by E17.5.

Previously, nan researchers demonstrated that nan craniofacial style successful mice is established astatine mesenchymal condensation. Embryos were stained connected E12.5 to exemplify nan style of mesenchymal condensations.

The wide style remained preserved, but thicker nasal capsule compartments were observed. When Tsc1 was ablated, nasal chondrocyte clones appeared arsenic ample bulky clusters pinch extended dispersion and misalignment.

These findings indicated that nan activation of nan mTORC1 pathway modulated chondrogenic condensation and clonal arrangement. Further analyses suggested that nan mTORC1 pathway was progressive successful craniofacial shaping astatine a shape earlier aliases during chondrogenic condensations.

Next, mTORC1 was inhibited utilizing rapamycin successful pregnant dams connected E10.5; this led to a somewhat elongated snout successful embryos connected E17.5.

Moreover, reduced thickness of chondrogenic mesenchymal condensations was observed connected E12.5. Next, nan squad investigated whether these effects of mTORC1 were conserved among species.

As such, they selected zebrafish and exposed nan larvae to rapamycin astatine respective clip points during development. Rapamycin vulnerability earlier aliases during chondrogenic condensation did not impact nan wide facial skeleton size, albeit nan cartilaginous structures were narrowed.

Further, erstwhile exposed earlier condensation, a flimsy curvature of nan ethmoid sheet was observed, pinch repositioning of various cartilage elements.

Next, nan researchers examined whether alterations successful mTORC1 activity done diets pinch varying macromolecule levels mightiness power nan offspring’s craniofacial shaping. Accordingly, pregnant mice consumed isocaloric diets pinch 4%, 20%, aliases 40% protein, opening E6.5.

The lowest and astir pronounced mTORC1 activity was observed successful embryos from low- and high-protein fare recipients.

Protein levels successful nan maternal fare influenced Meckel’s cartilage magnitude and nan nasal capsule’s width and magnitude successful embryos. The thickness of nan nasal capsule cartilage accrued pinch higher macromolecule successful nan diet.


In sum, nan study illustrated nan mechanisms of mTORC1-dependent shaping of craniofacial skeletal elements successful mice and zebrafish, which chiefly occurs on pinch chondrogenic mesenchymal condensations, pinch fine-tuning during nan intercalation of chondroprogenitors.

Moreover, macromolecule contented successful maternal diets modulated nan mTORC1 activity successful rodent embryos. Overall, nan results connection insights into nan craniofacial shaping and its phenotypic plasticity.

Journal reference:

  • Xie M, Kaiser M, Gershtein Y, et al. (2024) The level of macromolecule successful nan maternal murine fare modulates nan facial quality of nan offspring via mTORC1 signaling. Nature Communications,. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-46030-3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-024-46030-3