A Caltech Library Service

Riding the crest to get a head: neural crest evolution in vertebrates

Martik, Megan L. and Bronner, Marianne E. (2021) Riding the crest to get a head: neural crest evolution in vertebrates. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 22 (10). pp. 616-626. ISSN 1471-003X. doi:10.1038/s41583-021-00503-2.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In their seminal 1983 paper, Gans and Northcutt proposed that evolution of the vertebrate ‘new head’ was made possible by the advent of the neural crest and cranial placodes. The neural crest is a stem cell population that arises adjacent to the forming CNS and contributes to important cell types, including components of the peripheral nervous system and craniofacial skeleton and elements of the cardiovascular system. In the past few years, the new head hypothesis has been challenged by the discovery in invertebrate chordates of cells with some, but not all, characteristics of vertebrate neural crest cells. Here, we discuss recent findings regarding how neural crest cells may have evolved during the course of deuterostome evolution. The results suggest that there was progressive addition of cell types to the repertoire of neural crest derivatives throughout vertebrate evolution. Novel genomic tools have enabled higher resolution insight into neural crest evolution, from both a cellular and a gene regulatory perspective. Together, these data provide clues regarding the ancestral neural crest state and how the neural crest continues to evolve to contribute to the success of vertebrates as efficient predators.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Martik, Megan L.0000-0003-1186-4085
Bronner, Marianne E.0000-0003-4274-1862
Additional Information:© 2021 Nature Publishing Group. Accepted 13 July 2021; Published 01 September 2021. The authors thank J. Stundl for comments and discussion on this manuscript. This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant R35NS111564 to M.E.B. M.L.M. was supported by a fellowship from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation and by NIH grant 1K99HD100587. Author Contributions: The authors contributed equally to all aspects of the article. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information: Nature Reviews Neuroscience thanks I. Adameyko, M. Levine and A. Monsoro-Burq for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Helen Hay Whitney FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Development of the nervous system; Developmental biology; Evolution
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210901-191523412
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Martik, M.L., Bronner, M.E. Riding the crest to get a head: neural crest evolution in vertebrates. Nat Rev Neurosci 22, 616–626 (2021).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110692
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Sep 2021 16:08
Last Modified:22 Sep 2021 18:30

Repository Staff Only: item control page