Regulation of mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition by PARAXIS during somitogenesis

Megan Rowton, Pilar Ramos, Douglas M. Anderson, Jerry M. Rhee, Heather E. Cunliffe, Alan Rawls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Dynamic alterations in cell shape, migration, and adhesion play a central role in tissue morphogenesis during embryonic development and congenital disease. The mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition that occurs during vertebrate somitogenesis is required for proper patterning of the axial musculoskeletal system. Somitic MET is initiated in the presomitic mesoderm by PARAXIS-dependent changes in cell adhesion, cell polarity, and the composition of the extracellular matrix. However, the target genes downstream of the transcription factor PARAXIS remain poorly described. Results: A genome-wide comparison of gene expression in the anterior presomitic mesoderm and newly formed somites of Paraxis-/- embryos resulted in a set of deregulated genes enriched for factors associated with extracellular matrix and cytoskeletal organization and cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesion. The greatest change in expression was seen in fibroblast activation protein alpha (Fap), encoding a dipeptidyl peptidase capable of increasing fibronectin and collagen fiber organization in extracellular matrix. Further, downstream genes in the Wnt and Notch signaling pathways were downregulated, predicting that PARAXIS participates in positive feedback loops in both pathways. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that PARAXIS initiates and stabilizes somite epithelialization by integrating signals from multiple pathways to control the reorganization of the ECM, cytoskeleton, and adhesion junctions during MET. Developmental Dynamics 242:1332-1344, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1332-1344
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Daam2
  • Dmrt2
  • ECM
  • Expression
  • Fap
  • MET
  • Meox2
  • Mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition
  • Somitogenesis
  • TCF15

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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