David, N.B., Saint-Etienne, L., Tsang, M., Schilling, T.F., and Rosa, F.M. (2002) Requirement for endoderm and FGF3 in ventral head skeleton formation. Development (Cambridge, England). 129(19):4457-4468.
The vertebrate head skeleton is derived in part from neural crest cells, which physically interact with head ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm to shape the pharyngeal arches. The cellular and molecular nature of these interactions is poorly understood, and we explore here the function of endoderm in this process. By genetic ablation and reintroduction of endoderm in zebrafish, we show that it is required for the development of chondrogenic neural crest cells, including their identity, survival and differentiation into arch cartilages. Using a genetic interference approach, we further identify Fgf3 as a critical component of endodermal function that allows the development of posterior arch cartilages. Together, our results reveal for the first time that the endoderm provides differential cues along the anteroposterior axis to control ventral head skeleton development and demonstrate that this function is mediated in part by Fgf3.