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Development. 2003 Feb;130(3):507-18.

Cell autonomous requirement for PDGFRalpha in populations of cranial and cardiac neural crest cells.

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  • 1Program in Developmental Biology and Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Cardiac and cephalic neural crest cells (NCCs) are essential components of the craniofacial and aortic arch mesenchyme. Genetic disruption of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRalpha) results in defects in multiple tissues in the mouse, including neural crest derivatives contributing to the frontonasal process and the aortic arch. Using chimeric analysis, we show that loss of the receptor in NCCs renders them inefficient at contributing to the cranial mesenchyme. Conditional gene ablation in NCCs results in neonatal lethality because of aortic arch defects and a severely cleft palate. The conotruncal defects are first observed at E11.5 and are consistent with aberrant NCC development in the third, fourth and sixth branchial arches, while the bone malformations present in the frontonasal process and skull coincide with defects of NCCs from the first to third branchial arches. Changes in cell proliferation, migration, or survival were not observed in PDGFRalpha NCC conditional embryos, suggesting that the PDGFRalpha may play a role in a later stage of NCC development. Our results demonstrate that the PDGFRalpha plays an essential, cell-autonomous role in the development of cardiac and cephalic NCCs and provides a model for the study of aberrant NCC development.

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