Tissue Interactions in Neural Crest Cell Development and Disease

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Science  23 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6148, pp. 860-863
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230717

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Neural Crest Development

The vertebrate neural crest is characterized by a migratory population of multipotent cells that spread out from the dorsal side of the neural tube. Many different cell types and tissues originate here, including cells of the peripheral nervous system, the adrenal medulla, melanocytes, and some skeletal cells. Dysregulation of neural crest cells can lead to defects in cell differentiation and the cell cycle, as well as to the formation of ectopic tissue, which can result in various human diseases. Takahashi et al. (p. 860) review the normal development of neural crest cells, highlighting important associations of this cell population with local environments to influence tissue interactions and function, and describe pathogenesis that results when developmental events go awry.


The neural crest is a transient population of migratory cells in the embryo that gives rise to a wide variety of different cell types, including those of the peripheral nervous system. Dysfunction of neural crest cells (NCCs) is associated with multiple diseases, such as neuroblastoma and Hirschsprung disease. Recent studies have identified NCC behaviors during their migration and differentiation, with implications for their contributions to development and disease. Here, we describe how interactions between cells of the neural crest and lineages such as the vascular system, as well as those involving environmental signals and microbial pathogens, are critically important in determining the roles played by these cells.

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