The findings are very limited at this time, but I now have a little bit of data that is ready to be analyzed. For starters, here is a picture of the nasal suture of a normal mouse. (The nasal suture is very small in humans because of our small noses, but it is quite easy to examine in the large noses of mice)
As you can see, the suture’s structure is very orderly and is relatively consistently shaped. The cells which are stained blue (see “How to Look at Cells”) are positioned in the middle of the suture at fairly regular intervals, and, apart from some cutting damage, the tissue itself looks normal. This orderly structure is formed by the normal activity of mesenchymal cells—a type of adult stem cell— as they develop and differentiate properly into cartilage.
*As of December 6th, I do not have an image of of TSC1-knockout mouse’s nasal suture ready for publishing. I will place one here when a good example is ready and has been thoroughly analyzed.
Even though I do not have a picture of a knockout mouse’s nasal suture to show you (yet!), I can give you an idea of what removing TSC1 from the mouse’s genome does to the structure of the suture. In the normal suture, the runs of the suture are relatively straight (vertical runs in the above photo) and the bends are of similar sizes and are spaced evenly at the ends of every run. In the knockout mice, I am finding most to have very irregular suture patterns; I’ll attempt to illustrate below.
Besides the irregular suture structure, the knockout mice seem to have far more of the blue-stained mesenchymal cells present in the suture. Such an overabundance of stem cells indicates that they are not differentiating like those in the control group, contributing to irregular growth of the skull as a whole and the nasal suture in particular.
To reiterate, these are early results based on a limited sample size. That said, the data is very promising and is supporting my hypothesis remarkably well. I will have to wait for more data to conclude anything beyond what is stated in this post. As more results come in, I will be making updates and will be investigating the implications of said outcomes, so stay tuned!