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Dev Cell. 2003 Jun;4(6):827-39.

The protooncogene c-myc is an essential regulator of neural crest formation in xenopus.

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Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


The neural crest, a population of multipotent progenitor cells, is a defining feature of vertebrate embryos. Neural crest precursor cells arise at the neural plate border in response to inductive signals, but much remains to be learned about the molecular mechanisms underlying their induction. Here we show that the protooncogene c-Myc is an essential early regulator of neural crest cell formation in Xenopus. c-myc is localized at the neural plate border prior to the expression of early neural crest markers, such as slug. A morpholino-mediated "knockdown" of c-Myc protein results in the absence of neural crest precursor cells and a resultant loss of neural crest derivatives. These effects are not dependent upon changes in cell proliferation or cell death. Instead, our findings reveal an important and unexpected role for c-Myc in the specification of cell fates in the early ectoderm.

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