PloS one

Differential expression of extracellular matrix-mediated pathways in single-suture craniosynostosis.

PMID 22028906


Craniosynostosis is a disease defined by premature fusion of one or more cranial sutures. The mechanistic pathology of single-suture craniosynostosis is complex and while a number of genetic biomarkers and environmental predispositions have been identified, in many cases the causes remain controversial and inconclusive. In this study, gene expression data from 199 patients with isolated sagittal (n = 100), unilateral coronal (n = 50), and metopic (n = 49) synostosis are compared against both a control population (n = 50), as well as each other. After controlling for variables contributing to potential bias, FGF7, SFRP4, and VCAM1 emerged as genes associated with single-suture craniosynostosis due to their significantly large changes in gene expression compared to the control population. Pathway analysis implicated focal adhesion and extracellular matrix (ECM)-receptor interaction as differentially regulated gene networks when comparing all cases of single-suture synostosis and controls. Lastly, overall gene expression was found to be highly conserved between coronal and metopic cases, as evidenced by the fact that WNT2 and IGFBP2 were the only genes differentially regulated to a significantly large extent in a direct comparison. The identification of genes and gene networks associated with Fgf/Igf/Wnt signaling and ECM-mediated focal adhesion not only support the involvement of biomarkers previously reported to be related to craniosynostosis, but also introduce novel transcripts and pathways that may play critical roles in its pathogenesis.