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Published July 29, 2000 | public
Journal Article

Genes, lineages and the neural crest: a speculative review


Sensory and sympathetic neurons are generated from the trunk neural crest. The prevailing view has been that these two classes of neurons are derived from a common neural crest–derived progenitor that chooses between neuronal fates only after migrating to sites of peripheral ganglion formation. Here I reconsider this view in the light of new molecular and genetic data on the differentiation of sensory and autonomic neurons. These data raise several paradoxes when taken in the context of classical studies of the timing and spatial patterning of sensory and autonomic ganglion formation. These paradoxes can be most easily resolved by assuming that the restriction of neural crest cells to either sensory or autonomic lineages occurs at a very early stage, either before and/or shortly after they exit the neural tube.

Additional Information

© 2000 The Royal Society. I thank past and present members of my laboratory who have contributed data and ideas to our studies of the neural crest. These include Derek Stemple, Nirao Shah, Liching Lo, Amy Greenwood, PatWhite, Sherry Perez, Jane Johnson, Lukas Sommer, Joseph Verdi and Qiufu Ma. The perspective presented here is the author's and is not necessarily representative of these other individuals. I am grateful to Amy Greenwood for helpful comments on the manuscript. The author is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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October 20, 2023