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J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol. 2010 Mar 15;314(2):95-103. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.21321.

Generation of neural crest progenitors from human embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Reconstructive Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA.


The neural crest (NC) is a transient population of multipotent progenitors arising at the lateral edge of the neural plate in vertebrate embryos, which then migrate throughout the body to generate diverse array of tissues such as the peripheral nervous system, skin melanocytes, and craniofacial cartilage, bone and teeth. The transient nature of neural crest stem cells make extremely challenging to study the biology of these important cells. In humans induction and differentiation of embryonic NC occurs very early, within a few weeks of fertilization giving rise to technical and ethical issues surrounding isolation of early embryonic tissues and therefore severely limiting the study of human NC cells. For that reason our current knowledge of the biology of NC mostly derives from the studies of lower organisms. Recent progress in human embryonic stem cell research provides a unique opportunity for generation of a useful source of cells for basic developmental studies. The development of cost-effective, time and labor efficient improved differentiation protocols for the production of human NC cells is a critical step toward a better understanding of NC biology.

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