• Tbx1;
  • FGF;
  • pharyngeal endoderm;
  • morphogenesis

Background: The T-box transcription factor Tbx1, is essential for the normal development of multiple organ systems in the embryo. One of the most striking phenotypes in Tbx1−/− embryos is the failure of the caudal pharyngeal pouches to evaginate from the foregut endoderm. Despite considerable interest in the role of Tbx1 in development, the mechanisms whereby Tbx1 controls caudal pouch formation have remained elusive. In particular, the question as to how Tbx1 expression in the pharyngeal endoderm regulates pharyngeal pouch morphogenesis in the mouse embryo is not known. Results: To address this question, we produced mouse embryos in which Tbx1 was specifically deleted from the pharyngeal endoderm and, as expected, embryos failed to form caudal pharyngeal pouches. To determine the molecular mechanism, we examined expression of Fgf3 and Fgf8 ligands and downstream effectors. Although Fgf8 expression is greatly reduced in Tbx1-deficient endoderm, FGF signaling levels are unaffected. Furthermore, pouch morphogenesis is only partially perturbed by the loss of both Fgf3 and Fgf8 from the endoderm, indicating that neither are required for pouch formation. Conclusions: Tbx1 deletion from the pharyngeal endoderm is sufficient to cause caudal pharyngeal arch segmentation defects by FGF-independent effectors that remain to be identified. Developmental Dynamics 243:1143–1151, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.