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Development. 2008 Dec;135(24):4113-22. doi: 10.1242/dev.023119. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Directing pathfinding along the dorsolateral path - the role of EDNRB2 and EphB2 in overcoming inhibition.

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University of California, Davis, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Neural crest cells that become pigment cells migrate along a dorsolateral route between the ectoderm and the somite, whereas most other neural crest cells are inhibited from entering this space. This pathway choice has been attributed to unique, cell-autonomous migratory properties acquired by neural crest cells when they become specified as melanoblasts. By shRNA knockdown and overexpression experiments, we investigated the roles of three transmembrane receptors in regulating dorsolateral pathfinding in the chick trunk. We show that Endothelin receptor B2 (EDNRB2) and EphB2 are both determinants in this process, and that, unlike in other species, c-KIT is not. We demonstrate that the overexpression of EDNRB2 can maintain normal dorsolateral migration of melanoblasts in the absence of EphB2, and vice versa, suggesting that changes in receptor expression levels regulate the invasion of this pathway. Furthermore, by heterotopic grafting, we show that neural crest cell populations that do not rely on the activation of these receptors can migrate dorsolaterally only if this path is free of inhibitory molecules. We conclude that the requirement for EDNRB2 and EphB2 expression by melanoblasts is to support their migration by helping them to overcome repulsive or non-permissive cues in the dorsolateral environment.

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