• candidate genes;
  • development;
  • microarray;
  • palate

The mammalian face is assembled in utero in a series of complex and interdependent molecular, cell and tissue processes. The orofacial complex appears to be exquisitely sensitive to genetic and environmental influence and this explains why clefts of the lip and palate are the most common congenital anomaly in humans (one in 700 live births). In this study, microarray technology was used to identify genes that may play pivotal roles in normal murine palatogenesis. mRNA was isolated from murine embryonic palatal shelves oriented vertically (before elevation), horizontally (following elevation, before contact), and following fusion. Changes in gene expression between the three different stages were analyzed with GeneChip® microarrays. A number of genes were upregulated or downregulated, and large changes were seen in the expression of loricrin, glutamate decarboxylase, gamma-amino butyric acid type A receptor beta3 subunit, frizzled, Wnt-5a, metallothionein, annexin VIII, LIM proteins, Sox1, plakophilin1, cathepsin K and creatine kinase. In this paper, the changes in genetic profile of the developing murine palate are presented, and the possible role individual genes/proteins may play during normal palate development are discussed. Candidate genes with a putative role in cleft palate are also highlighted.