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Dev Biol. 2004 Nov 1;275(1):1-11.

Induction of the neural crest and the opportunities of life on the edge.

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Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The neural crest is a multipotent population of migratory cells unique to the vertebrate embryo. Neural crest arises at the lateral edge of the neural plate and migrates throughout the embryo to give rise to a wide variety of cell types including peripheral and enteric neurons and glia, craniofacial cartilage and bone, smooth muscle, and pigment cells. Here we review recent studies that have addressed the role of several signaling pathways in the induction of the neural crest. Work in the mouse, chick, Xenopus, and zebrafish have shown that a complex network of genes is activated at the neural plate border in response to neural crest-inducing signals. We also summarize some of these findings and discuss how the differential activation of these genes may contribute to the establishment of neural crest diversity.

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