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Bioessays. 2003 Apr;25(4):317-25.

Wnt-frizzled signaling in the induction and differentiation of the neural crest.

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Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group, Department of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The neural crest is a transient population of multipotent progenitors arising at the lateral edge of the neural plate in vertebrate embryos. After delamination and migration from the neuroepithelium, these cells contribute to a diverse array of tissues including neurons, smooth muscle, craniofacial cartilage, bone cells, endocrine cells and pigment cells. Considerable progress in recent years has furthered our understanding at a molecular level of how this important group of cells is generated and how they are assigned to specific lineages. Here we review a number of recent studies supporting a role for Wnt signaling in neural crest induction, differentiation, and apoptosis. We also summarize the timing of expression of a number of Wnt ligands and receptors with respect to neural crest induction.

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