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Keywords:

  • T/ebp-null mouse;
  • Nkx2.1;
  • Titf1;
  • ultimobranchial body;
  • ultimobranchial body cyst;
  • thyroid;
  • calcitonin;
  • C-cells;
  • development

Abstract

The ultimobranchial body (UBB) is an outpocketing of the fourth pharyngeal pouch that fuses with the thyroid diverticulum, giving rise to calcitonin-producing C-cells. In this study, we demonstrate that the UBB is composed of two types of cells: one expressing T/ebp/Nkx2.1 and the other expressing p63. The former cell type, accounting for a majority of the UBB, requires T/ebp/Nkx2.1 for their survival. In contrast, the p63-positive cells, even in the absence of T/ebp/Nkx2.1 expression, can proliferate and give rise to a vesicular structure that is lined by a monolayer of p63-negative cells, surrounded by a cluster and/or single layer of p63-positive cells, displaying the basal/stem cell phenotype. T/ebp/Nkx2.1 haploinsufficiency causes abnormal fusion of the UBB with the thyroid diverticulum, which stays as a cluster of C-cells around the vesicular structure, similar to the one observed in mice null for T/ebp/Nkx2.1 expression. These results demonstrate that T/ebp/Nkx2.1 plays a role in the survival of UBB cells, their dissemination into the thyroid diverticulum, and the formation of UBB-derived vesicular structure. Developmental Dynamics 235:1300–1309, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.