The roles of mandibular epithelium in chondrogenesis and growth of mandibular mesenchyme were examined in organ cultures. Epithelium and mesenchyme were separated from the mandibular arches of chick embryos at stages before and after the onset of chondrogenesis in vivo (stages 18-28). Isochronic and heterochronic tissue recombinations were prepared. Removal of the mandibular epithelium resulted in reduced growth of the explants and enhanced chondrogenesis, resulting in increased levels of mRNAs for type II collagen and aggrecan. The presence of mandibular epithelium promoted cell division in loosely arranged undifferentiated tissue from the mandibular mesenchyme and resulted in increased levels of type I collagen mRNA. Enhanced chondrogenesis was also observed in the mesenchyme isolated with basement membrane and isolated mesenchyme grown within Matrigel. These findings suggest that mandibular epithelium has mitogenic and chondrogenic-inhibitory effects on the underlying mesenchyme that are stage independent. Furthermore, the chondrogenic-inhibitory effect of mandibular epithelium on the underlying mesenchymal cells is not mediated by basement membrane. © 1994.
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