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Dev Dyn. 2011 Aug;240(8):1880-8. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22679. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Plasticity of neural crest-placode interaction in the developing visceral nervous system.

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Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA.


The reciprocal relationship between rhombomere (r)-derived cranial neural crest (NC) and epibranchial placodal cells derived from the adjacent branchial arch is critical for visceral motor and sensory gangliogenesis, respectively. However, it is unknown whether the positional match between these neurogenic precursors is hard-wired along the anterior-posterior (A/P) axis. Here, we use the interaction between r4-derived NC and epibranchial placode-derived geniculate ganglion as a model to address this issue. In Hoxa1(-/-) b1(-/-) embryos, r2 NC compensates for the loss of r4 NC. Specifically, a population of r2 NC cells is redirected toward the geniculate ganglion, where they differentiate into postganglionic (motor) neurons. Reciprocally, the inward migration of the geniculate ganglion is associated with r2 NC. The ability of NC and placodal cells to, respectively, differentiate and migrate despite a positional mismatch along the A/P axis reflects the plasticity in the relationship between the two neurogenic precursors of the vertebrate head.

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