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Cranial dermis develops from cephalic mesoderm and neural crest cells, but what signal(s) specifies the dermal lineage is unclear. Using genetic tools to fate map and manipulate a cranial mesenchymal progenitor population in the supraorbital region, we show that the dermal progenitor cells beneath the surface ectoderm process canonical Wnt signaling at the time of specification. We show that Wnt signaling/β-catenin is absolutely required and sufficient for Dermo1 expression and dermal cell identity in the cranium. The absence of the Wnt signaling cue leads to formation of cartilage in craniofacial and ventral trunk regions at the expense of dermal and bone lineages. Dermo1 can be a direct transcription target and may mediate the functional role of Wnt signaling in dermal precursors. This study reveals a lineage-specific role of canonical Wnt signaling/β-catenin in promoting dermal cell fate in distinct precursor populations.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





3973 - 3984


Animals, Base Sequence, Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors, Biomarkers, Body Patterning, Cartilage, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Dermis, Embryo, Mammalian, Enhancer Elements, Genetic, Homeodomain Proteins, Mesoderm, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Protein Binding, Repressor Proteins, SOX9 Transcription Factor, Signal Transduction, Skull, Stem Cells, Transcription Factor 4, Twist-Related Protein 1, Wnt Proteins, beta Catenin