Intracranial lipomas are rare, but 45% of them occur along the midline cisterns between the hemispheres and are often associated with corpus callosum hypoplasia and craniofacial defects. They are difficult to detect as they are generally asymptomatic and visible by MRI or by postmortem examination. The exact cause of these interhemispheric lipomas is not known, but they arise from a developmental defect resulting in the maldifferentiation of mesenchymal cells into mesodermal derivatives that are not normally present. We have identified a new mouse mutant called tuft, exhibiting a forebrain, intracranial lipoma with midline craniofacial defects resembling frontonasal dysplasia (FND) that arose spontaneously in our wild-type 3H1 colony. The tuft trait seems to be transmitted in recessive fashion, but approximately 80% less frequent than the expected Mendelian 25%, due to either incomplete penetrance or prenatal lethality. MRI and histologic analysis revealed that the intracranial lipoma occurred between the hemispheres and often protruded through the sagittal suture. We also observed a lesion at the lamina terminalis (LT) that may indicate improper closure of the anterior neuropore. We have mapped the tuft trait to within an 18 cM region on mouse chromosome 10 by microsatellite linkage analysis and identified several candidate genes involved with craniofacial development and cellular differentiation of adipose tissue. Tuft is the only known mouse model for midline craniofacial defects with an intracranial lipoma. Identifying the gene(s) and mutation(s) causing this early developmental defect will help us understand the pathogenesis of FND and related craniofacial disorders. © Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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