The force for directing palate shelf reorientation appears to be associated with elements of the presumptive hard palate (Brinkley & Vickerman, 1979; Bulleit & Zimmerman, 1985). The palatal elements that mediate this process do not require palate cells to be metabolically active for expression of the force. This contention was demonstrated using an in vitro system that allows substantial reorientation of the hard palate to occur. ATP levels were reduced by treatment with metabolic inhibitors and the degree of reorientation was measured 1 h following pretreatment with inhibitors. Treatment of cultured embryonic heads under anoxic conditions with 2,4-dinitrophenol or KCN had noeffect on the degree of reorientation occurring in vitro. These agents reduced ATP levels by 71 % and 62 %, respectively. Treatment of cultured heads with 2-deoxy-D-glucose under anoxia also had no effect on reorientation. This treatment reduced ATP levels in embryonic heads by 92–94%. A similar reduction was observed if ATP levels were measured in palate tissue alone. The treatment of cultured heads with 2-deoxy-D-glucose and anoxia not only reduced levels of ATP but also reduced CTP, GTP and UTP. These results indicate that palate shelf reorientation is independent of cellular metabolic activity and supports the hypothesis that reorientation is dependent on a pre-existing infrastructure within the palate shelves.

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