The del22q11.2 candidate gene Tbx1 regulates branchiomeric myogenesis

Robert G Kelly, Loydie A Jerome-Majewska, Virginia E Papaioannou
Human Molecular Genetics 2004 November 15, 13 (22): 2829-40
Formation and remodeling of the pharyngeal arches play central roles in craniofacial development. TBX1, encoding a T-box-containing transcription factor, is the major candidate gene for del22q11.2 (DiGeorge or velo-cardio-facial) syndrome, characterized by craniofacial defects, thymic hypoplasia, cardiovascular anomalies, velopharyngeal insufficiency and skeletal muscle hypotonia. Tbx1 is expressed in pharyngeal mesoderm, which gives rise to branchiomeric skeletal muscles of the head and neck. Although the genetic control of craniofacial muscle development is known to involve pathways distinct from those operational in the trunk, the regulation of branchiomeric myogenesis has remained enigmatic. Here we show that branchiomeric muscle development is severely perturbed in Tbx1 mutant mice. In the absence of Tbx1, the myogenic determination genes Myf5 and MyoD fail to be normally activated in pharyngeal mesoderm. Unspecified precursor cells expressing genes encoding the transcriptional repressors Capsulin and MyoR are present in the mandibular arch of Tbx1 mutant embryos. Sporadic activation of Myf5 and MyoD in these precursor cells results in the random presence or absence of hypoplastic mandibular arch-derived muscles at later developmental stages. Tbx1 is also required for normal expression of Tlx1 and Fgf10 in pharyngeal mesoderm, in addition to correct neural crest cell patterning in the mandibular arch. Tbx1 therefore regulates the onset of branchiomeric myogenesis and controls normal mandibular arch development, including robust transcriptional activation of myogenic determination genes. While no abnormalities in branchiomeric myogenesis were detected in Tbx1(+/-) mice, reduced TBX1 levels may contribute to pharyngeal hypotonia in del22q11.2 patients.

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