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ETS2 repressor factor (ERF) insufficiency causes craniosynostosis (CRS4) in humans and mice. ERF is an ETS domain transcriptional repressor regulated by Erk1/2 phosphorylation via nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling. Here, we analyze the onset and development of the craniosynostosis phenotype in an Erf-insufficient mouse model and evaluate the potential of the residual Erf activity augmented by pharmacological compounds to ameliorate the disease. Erf insufficiency appears to cause an initially compromised frontal bone formation and subsequent multisuture synostosis, reflecting distinct roles of Erf on the cells that give rise to skull and facial bones. We treated animals with Mek1/2 and nuclear export inhibitors, U0126 and KPT-330, respectively, to increase Erf activity by two independent pathways. We implemented both a low dosage locally over the calvaria and a systemic drug administration scheme to evaluate the possible indirect effects from other systems and minimize toxicity. The treatment of mice with either the inhibitors or the administration scheme alleviated the synostosis phenotype with minimal adverse effects. Our data suggest that the ERF level is an important regulator of cranial bone development and that pharmacological modulation of its activity may represent a valid intervention approach both in CRS4 and in other syndromic forms of craniosynostosis mediated by the FGFR-RAS-ERK-ERF pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Mol Sci

Publication Date





Ets2 repressor factor, craniosynostosis, pharmacological modulation, Animals, Mice, Craniosynostoses, MAP Kinase Signaling System, Phosphorylation, Repressor Proteins, Skull, Transcription Factors