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Dev Dyn. 2011 Oct;240(10):2309-23. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22735. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

The tight junction scaffolding protein cingulin regulates neural crest cell migration.

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Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.


Neural crest cells give rise to a diverse range of structures during vertebrate development. These cells initially exist in the dorsal neuroepithelium and subsequently acquire the capacity to migrate. Although studies have documented the importance of adherens junctions in regulating neural crest cell migration, little attention has been paid to tight junctions during this process. We now identify the tight junction protein cingulin as a key regulator of neural crest migration. Cingulin knock-down increases the migratory neural crest cell domain, which is correlated with a disruption of the neural tube basal lamina. Overexpression of cingulin also augments neural crest cell migration and is associated with similar basal lamina changes and an expansion of the premigratory neural crest population. Cingulin overexpression causes aberrant ventrolateral neuroepithelial cell delamination, which is linked to laminin loss and a decrease in RhoA. Together, our results highlight a novel function for cingulin in the neural crest.

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