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Dev Biol. 2006 Feb 1;290(1):92-104. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Zebrafish Foxd3 is required for development of a subset of neural crest derivatives.

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Department of Biological Structure and Center for Developmental Biology, University of Washington, HSB G514, Box 357420, Seattle, 98195-7420, USA.


foxd3 encodes a winged helix/forkhead class transcription factor expressed in the premigratory neural crest cells of many vertebrates. We have investigated the function of this gene in zebrafish neural crest by a loss of function approach using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides and immunostaining for Foxd3 protein. Knockdown of Foxd3 expression produces deficits in several differentiated neural crest derivatives, including jaw cartilage, peripheral neurons, and glia, and iridophore pigment cells. Other derivatives, such as melanophore and xanthophore pigment cells are not affected. Reduction in the expression of several lineage-specific markers becomes evident soon after the onset of neural crest migration, suggesting that Foxd3 knockdown affects these lineages at early stages in their development. In contrast, analysis of the expression of early neural crest markers indicates little effect on neural crest induction or initial emigration. Finally, cell transplantation suggests that with respect to dorsal root ganglia neurons the Foxd3 requirement is cell autonomous, although Foxd3 itself is not detectable in differentiated DRG neurons. These results suggest that in zebrafish Foxd3 may not be required for induction of neural crest identity but is necessary for the differentiation of a subset of neural crest cell fates, perhaps in precursors of particular neural crest lineages.

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