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Published May 17, 2005 | Published
Journal Article Open

Late-emigrating neural crest cells in the roof plate are restricted to a sensory fate by GDF7


Lineage-tracing experiments have shown that some premigratory neural crest cells generate both sensory (S) and autonomic (A) derivatives, whereas others generate only S derivatives. Whether this lineage heterogeneity reflects random variation in a homogeneous population or an early sensory specification of some premigratory crest cells has not been clear. Using Cre recombinase-based fate mapping, we show that GDF7, which is exclusively expressed in the roof plate, marks neural crest cells with a 10-fold higher bias to the sensory lineage than those marked (at the same stage of development) by an inducible Wnt1-Cre, which is expressed more broadly in the dorsal neural tube. In vitro, GDF7 has potent sensory neuron-inducing activity. These data suggest that some premigratory crest cells are deterministically restricted to the S lineage and implicate GDF7 itself in this restriction process.

Additional Information

© 2005 National Academy of Sciences. Freely available online through the PNAS open access option. Communicated by Fred H. Gage, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA, April 5, 2005 (received for review January 6, 2005). We thank A. McMahon and J. McMahon (Harvard University) for providing control Wnt1-CreER; Rosa26 mice, K. Lee and T. M. Jessell for providing Gdf7-Cre mice and a Gdf7 expression plasmid, Y. Moukouyama for immunostaining the sections shown in Fig. 7 D–F, and M. Bronner-Fraser for helpful comments on the manuscript. D.J.A. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Author contributions: L.L., E.L.D., and D.J.A. designed research; L.L. and E.L.D. performed research; L.L. and E.L.D. analyzed data; and D.J.A. wrote the paper.

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