The advent of molecular biology has allowed biologist to uncover, characterize, and ultimately manipulate the genes. We can now study how genes and proteins operate within their natural habitats.
This is significantly furthering our understanding of the fundamental principles of development, how genes control cell behavior and thus, how they determine the pattern and form of an embryo. Without this knowledge of gene activity and the relevant cellular signaling pathway, elucidating the mechanism that control development would be impossible. These advances are now influencing dentistry and clinical genetics with almost daily progression in explaining the basis of multitude of congenital malformation, and skeletal and dental abnormalities.
Generation of craniofacial complex is a process that requires considerable organization. The vertebrate head is a composite structure whose formation begins early in development as the brain is beginning to form. Central to the development of a head is a concept of segmentation; manifest in the hindbrain and brachial arch systems. In conjunction with migrating neural crest cells these systems will give rise to much of the head and neck and their associated, individual compartments. It is now becoming clear that the molecular control of embryonic resides at the level of the gene, in particular, within families of genes that encode transcription factors capable of regulating downstream gene transcription.