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Genes Dev. 2005 Mar 15;19(6):744-55.

To proliferate or to die: role of Id3 in cell cycle progression and survival of neural crest progenitors.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


The neural crest is a unique population of mitotically active, multipotent progenitors that arise at the vertebrate neural plate border. Here, we show that the helix-loop-helix transcriptional regulator Id3 has a novel role in cell cycle progression and survival of neural crest progenitors in Xenopus. Id3 is localized at the neural plate border during gastrulation and neurulation, overlapping the domain of neural crest induction. Morpholino oligonucleotide-mediated depletion of Id3 results in the absence of neural crest precursors and a resultant loss of neural crest derivatives. This appears to be mediated by cell cycle inhibition followed by cell death of the neural crest progenitor pool, rather than a cell fate switch. Conversely, overexpression of Id3 increases cell proliferation and results in expansion of the neural crest domain. Our data suggest that Id3 functions by a novel mechanism, independent of cell fate determination, to mediate the decision of neural crest precursors to proliferate or die.

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