Researchers have found a gene that causes cleft lip and palate in mice, according to a paper in the April 26 PNAS. The finding also suggests a causal link between smoking and cleft lip and palate in humans, say the authors.

Although many cleft palate mouse models exist, cleft lip is rare in mice. The Dancer mutation causes the rarer cleft lip and palate (CL/P), and identification and characterization of this mutation could provide a model to study the molecular pathways involved in both normal craniofacial development and CL/P pathogenesis, lead researcher Rulang Jiang, professor of biology at the University of Rochester, NY, told The Scientist.

Dancer is a mutation not studied since the 1950s, which meant that live mice had to be generated from frozen embryos. The team mapped Dancer to a 1-cM region near the centromere of chromosome 19, and in situ hybridization studies showed...

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