Plastic Surgery Research Council
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PSRC 60th Annual Meeting
Program and Abstracts

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The Suture Provides A Niche For Mesenchymal Stem Cells Of Craniofacial Bones.
Hu Zhao, DDS, PhD, Jifan Feng, DDS, PhD, Mark Urata, DDS, MD, Yang Chai, DDS, PhD.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

PURPOSE:Craniofacial bones are connected by sutures. It was generally proposed that sutures mainly function to connect the bones and to absorb shock. In the current study, we are proposing that suture mesenchyme contains stem cell to support the craniofacial bone turnover and injury repair.
METHODS:Gli1-LacZ reporter mice were used to study the expression pattern of Gli1 in the craniofacial bones. Lineage tracing analysis were performed to trace the fate of the Gli1+ cells. Gli1-CreERT2;R26DTAflox strain was used for cell ablation analysis. Various other transgenic mouse strains were used to analyze the function and regulations of the Gli1+ cells in the suture mesenchyme.
RESULTS:Gli1 expression is restricted to the suture mesenchyme specifically after postnatal 21 days. Gli1+ cells in the suture mesenchyme do not express any osteogenic differentiation markers including Runx2, Sp7, ALPase or osteopontin. Lineage tracing analysis based on Gli1-CreERT2;R26ZsGreen mice indicates that Gli1+ cells give rise to the entire suture mesenchyme, the periosteum, the dura and then to all the craniofacial bones under physiological condition or upon injury. Transplantation experiments indicate that suture transplants rapidly expand the size and are capable of repairing large size defects in the host mice. In vitro cell culture indicate that mesenchymal cells isolated from the suture express typical MSC markers and possess osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic potentials. Cell ablation analysis based on Gli1-CreERT2;R26DTA mice indicates Gli1+cell are indispensible for craniofacial postnatal growth and suture patency.
CONCLUSION:Gli1+ cells in the suture mesenchyme are stem cells supporting the postnatal growth, turnover and injury repair of craniofacial bones. Our study reveals a novel function for craniofacial suture mesenchyme, providing a new perspective for understanding the onset of craniosynostosis and other suture deformities, as well as a potential new therapy for craniofacial disorders


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