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Mech Dev. 2004 Sep;121(9):1089-102.

The avian embryo as a model to study the development of the neural crest: a long and still ongoing story.

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Institut d'Embryologie Cellulaire et Mol├ęculaire, 49bis, avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, 94736 Nogent-sur-Marne, France.


The aim of this review is to evoke briefly the progress that has been made in our knowledge about the contribution of the neural crest to the vertebrate body since it was discovered by Wilhelm His in 1868. Although first studied essentially in amphibian embryos, a large amount of what is known on this very special structure was gained by experimental work carried out on the avian embryo. The making of chimeras between quail and chick has permitted not only to analyse the normal course of neural crest cell migration and differentiation but also to reveal some of the cellular interactions that regulate these events. Looking to the future, we can foresee that the novel methods, which now allow to manipulate gene activities in definite groups of cells and at elected times in the developing embryo, will make the avian model even more instrumental than ever to approach the developmental problems raised by neural crest cell differentiation.

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