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Dev Biol. 2007 Jan 1;301(1):227-39. Epub 2006 Aug 10.

In vivo analysis reveals a critical role for neuropilin-1 in cranial neural crest cell migration in chick.

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Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


The neural crest provides an excellent model system to study invasive cell migration, however it is still unclear how molecular mechanisms direct cells to precise targets in a programmed manner. We investigate the role of a potential guidance factor, neuropilin-1, and use functional knockdown assays, tissue transplantation and in vivo confocal time-lapse imaging to analyze changes in chick cranial neural crest cell migratory patterns. When neuropilin-1 function is knocked down in ovo, neural crest cells fail to fully invade the branchial arches, especially the 2nd branchial arch. Time-lapse imaging shows that neuropilin-1 siRNA transfected neural crest cells stop and collapse filopodia at the 2nd branchial arch entrances, but do not die. This phenotype is cell autonomous. To test the influence of population pressure and local environmental cues in driving neural crest cells to the branchial arches, we isochronically transplanted small subpopulations of DiI-labeled neural crest cells into host embryos ablated of neighboring, premigratory neural crest cells. Time-lapse confocal analysis reveals that the transplanted cells migrate in narrow, directed streams. Interestingly, with the reduction of neuropilin-1 function, neural crest cells still form segmental migratory streams, suggesting that initial neural crest cell migration and invasion of the branchial arches are separable processes.

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