Development of normal and Cleft Palate: A central role for connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)/CCN2
© 2018 by the authors. Development of the palate is the result of an organized series of events that require exquisite spatial and temporal regulation at the cellular level. There are a myriad of growth factors, receptors and signaling pathways that have been shown to play an important role in growth, elevation and/or fusion of the palatal shelves. Altered expression or activation of a number of these factors, receptors and signaling pathways have been shown to cause cleft palate in humans or mice with varying degrees of penetrance. This review will focus on connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) or CCN2, which was recently shown to play an essential role in formation of the secondary palate. Specifically, the absence of CCN2 in KO mice results in defective cellular processes that contribute to failure of palatal shelf growth, elevation and/or fusion. CCN2 is unique in that it has been shown to interact with a number of other factors important for palate development, including bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), epidermal growth factor (EGF), Wnt proteins and transforming growth factor-βs (TGF-βs), thereby influencing their ability to bind to their receptors and mediate intracellular signaling. The role that these factors play in palate development and their specific interactions with CCN2 will also be reviewed. Future studies to elucidate the precise mechanisms of action for CCN2 and its interactions with other regulatory proteins during palatogenesis are expected to provide novel information with the potential for development of new pharmacologic or genetic treatment strategies for clinical intervention of cleft palate during development.