The fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 gene is differentially spliced to encode two transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor proteins that have different ligand-binding specificities and exclusive tissue distributions. We have used Cre-mediated excision to generate mice lacking the IIIb form of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 whilst retaining expression of the IIIc form. Fibroblast growth factor receptor 2(IIIb) null mice are viable until birth, but have severe defects of the limbs, lung and anterior pituitary gland. The development of these structures appears to initiate, but then fails with the tissues undergoing extensive apoptosis. There are also developmental abnormalities of the salivary glands, inner ear, teeth and skin, as well as minor defects in skull formation. Our findings point to a key role for fibroblast growth factor receptor 2(IIIb) in mesenchymal-epithelial signalling during early organogenesis.

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