Functional analysis of thecfdp1gene in zebrafish provides evidence for its crucial role in craniofacial development and osteogenesis

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The CFDP1 proteins have been linked to craniofacial development and osteogenesis in vertebrates, though specific human syndromes have not yet been identified. Alterations of craniofacial development represent the main cause of infant disability and mortality in humans. For this reason, it is crucial to understand the cellular functions and mechanism of action of the CFDP1 protein in model vertebrate organisms. Using a combination of genomic, molecular and cell biology approaches, we have performed a functional analysis of the cfdp1 gene and its encoded protein, zCFDP1, in the zebrafish model system. We found that zCFDP1 is present in the zygote, is rapidly produced after MTZ transition and is highly abundant in the head structures. Depletion of zCFDP1, induced by an ATG-blocking morpholino, produces considerable defects in craniofacial structures and bone mineralization. Together, our results show that zCFDP1 is an essential protein required for proper development and provide the first experimental evidence showing that in vertebrates it actively participates to the morphogenesis of craniofacial territories.HIGHLIGHTSThe zebrafish cfdp1 gene maps to chromosome 8 and is 2222 bp long with seven exons and six introns.The cfdp1 gene is highly expressed since very early embryonic stages until the completion of organogenesis.The zebrafish CFDP1 protein is highly abundant in the head structures.CFDP1 is an essential protein that actively participates to the correct definition and morphogenesis of craniofacial territories in the zebrafish model system.

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