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Published September 1985 | metadata_only
Journal Article

Molecular probes for the development and plasticity of neural crest derivatives


We have isolated cDNA clones for several mRNAs expressed in sympathetic neurons but not in adrenal chromaffin cells, two neural crest derivatives thought to share a common precursor. The tissue specificity, developmental expression, and hormonal regulation of these genes have been characterized using Northern blot and in situ hybridization analysis. We find that these mRNAs are independently regulated in development rather than synchronously induced. Our evidence also implicates Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the induction of one of these genes in postmigratory crest cells. Two of these genes become induced in mature chromaffin cells, which express a neuronal morphology in response to NGF. These results support the idea that the phenotypic plasticity of neural crest derivatives reflects a common precursor, the multipotentiality of which is sustained through terminal differentiation.

Additional Information

© 1985 by MIT. Received 22 April 1985, Revised 10 June 1985. We are grateful to Drs. Alison Doupe, Paul Patterson, and Story Landis for sharing their data, thoughts and technical expertise, which were critical to the success of this work. We also thank Drs. Robert Angerer, Jim Roberts, and Eva Dworkin for providing detailed procedures for in situ hybridization, and Dr. John Pintar for providing some of the embryo sections used in this study, helping us to interpret the embryonic anatomy, and critically reading the manuscript. We acknowledge the professional histological work of Artemis Katcherian, and thank Ms. Sharon Jaffe for superb technical assistance in tissue culture. We are grateful to Drs. Lloyd Greene and Debbie Leonard (NYU Medical Center) for providing us with PC12 cells and with samples of NGF-induced PC12 mRNA for use in preliminary experiments. Drs. P. Patterson and T. Jesse1 provided helpful advice and materials for primary culture, and Dr. R. Mesa-Tejada generously made his Leitz Ortholux II photomicroscope available to us. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge Ms. Phyllis Jane Kisloff for her expert preparation of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a fellowship to D. J. A. from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "'advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023