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Published February 15, 2015 | public
Journal Article Open

From classical to current: Analyzing peripheral nervous system and spinal cord lineage and fate


During vertebrate development, the central (CNS) and peripheral nervous systems (PNS) arise from the neural plate. Cells at the margin of the neural plate give rise to neural crest cells, which migrate extensively throughout the embryo, contributing to the majority of neurons and all of the glia of the PNS. The rest of the neural plate invaginates to form the neural tube, which expands to form the brain and spinal cord. The emergence of molecular cloning techniques and identification of fluorophores like Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), together with transgenic and electroporation technologies, have made it possible to easily visualize the cellular and molecular events in play during nervous system formation. These lineage-tracing techniques have precisely demonstrated the migratory pathways followed by neural crest cells and increased knowledge about their differentiation into PNS derivatives. Similarly, in the spinal cord, lineage-tracing techniques have led to a greater understanding of the regional organization of multiple classes of neural progenitor and post-mitotic neurons along the different axes of the spinal cord and how these distinct classes of neurons assemble into the specific neural circuits required to realize their various functions. Here, we review how both classical and modern lineage and marker analyses have expanded our knowledge of early peripheral nervous system and spinal cord development.

Additional Information

© 2014 Published by Elsevier Inc. Received 18 June 2014, Revised 22 September 2014, Accepted 25 September 2014, Available online 24 October 2014. The authors declare they have no conflict of interest. We thank Donna Crandall for her invaluable help preparing the figures, Katrina Adams, Bennett Novitch, Ankur Saxena and Supraja Varadarajan for images, Jane Johnson for discussions and Bennett Novitch for comments on the manuscript. Samantha Butler is supported by grants from NIH/NINDS (NS-063999, NS085097), CIRM (RB5-07320) and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation (no. 284402). Marianne Bronner is support by NIH grants HD037105, DE16459, and DE02415.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023