• Xenopus laevis;
  • eye formation;
  • jaw formation;
  • fork head transcription factors;
  • functional knockdown;
  • apoptosis;
  • histone deacetylase complex


A functional knockdown of FoxN3, a member of subclass N of fork head/winged helix transcription factors in Xenopus laevis, leads to an abnormal formation of the jaw cartilage, absence or malformation of distinct cranial nerves, and reduced size of the eye. While the eye phenotype is due to an increased rate of apoptosis, the cellular basis of the jaw phenotype is more complex. The upper and lower jaw cartilages are derivatives of a subset of cranial neural crest cells, which migrate into the first pharyngeal arch. Histological analysis of FoxN3-depleted embryos reveals severe deformation and false positioning of infrarostral, Meckel's, and palatoquadrate cartilages, structural elements derived from the first pharyngeal arch, and of the ceratohyale, which derives from the second pharyngeal arch. The derivatives of the third and fourth pharyngeal arches are less affected. FoxN3 is not required for early neural crest migration. Defects in jaw formation rather arise by failure of differentiation than by positional effects of crest migration. By GST-pulldown analysis, we have identified two different members of histone deacetylase complexes (HDAC), xSin3 and xRPD3, as putative interaction partners of FoxN3, suggesting that FoxN3 regulates craniofacial and eye development by recruiting HDAC. Developmental Dynamics 236:226–239, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.