Neural crest cell formation and migration in the developing embryo
Neural crest cells arise from the neural tube shortly after its closure and migrate extensively through prescribed regions of the embryos, where they differentiate into most of the peripheral nervous system as well as the facial skeleton and pigment cells. Along the embryonic axis, several distinct neural crest populations differ both in their migratory pathways and range of derivatives. Whereas those cells arising from the midbrain migrate as a uniform sheet of cells, neural crest cells emerging from the hindbrain and trunk regions migrate in a segmented manner. For example, trunk neural crest cells move preferentially through the rostral, but not caudal, half of each somite. Interactions with tissues encountered during migration strongly influence this segmental migratory pattern. For example, the mesodermal somites dictate the segmental migration of trunk neural crest cells and the otic placode appears to attract hindbrain neural crest cells. Although little is known about the molecular basis underlying migration, patterns of gene expression in the hindbrain are thought to contribute to the segmental arrangement of neural crest cells. Furthermore, neural crest cells possess integrin receptors that may be important for interacting with extracellular matrix molecules in their surroundings.
© 1994 FASEB. Our work is supported by U.S. Public Health Service HD-15527, HD-25138, DE10066, and by a grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.