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Dev Biol. 2005 Apr 15;280(2):373-85.

Semaphorin signaling guides cranial neural crest cell migration in zebrafish.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Division of Basic Science, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Cranial neural crest cells (NCCs) migrate into the pharyngeal arches in three primary streams separated by two cranial neural crest (NC)-free zones. Multiple tissues have been implicated in the guidance of cranial NCC migration; however, the signals provided by these tissues have remained elusive. We investigate the function of semaphorins (semas) and their receptors, neuropilins (nrps), in cranial NCC migration in zebrafish. We find that genes of the sema3F and sema3G class are expressed in the cranial NC-free zones, while nrp2a and nrp2b are expressed in the migrating NCCs. sema3F/3G expression is expanded homogeneously in the head periphery through which the cranial NCCs migrate in lzr/pbx4 mutants, in which the cranial NC streams are fused. Antisense morpholino knockdown of Sema3F/3G or Nrp2 suppresses the abnormal cranial NC phenotype of lzr/pbx4 mutants, demonstrating that aberrant Sema3F/3G-Nrp2 signaling is responsible for this phenotype and suggesting that repulsive Sema3F/3G-Npn2 signaling normally contributes to the guidance of migrating cranial NCCs. Furthermore, global over-expression of sema3Gb phenocopies the aberrant cranial NC phenotype of lzr/pbx4 mutants when endogenous Sema3 ligands are knocked down, consistent with a model in which the patterned expression of Sema3 ligands in the head periphery coordinates the migration of Nrp-expressing cranial NCCs.

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