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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2012 Aug;22(4):381-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2012.06.001. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

The neural crest in vertebrate evolution.

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Collège de France, 3 Rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France.


Vertebrates belong to the group of chordates characterized by a dorsal neural tube and an anteroposterior axis, the notochord. They are the only chordates to possess an embryonic and pluripotent structure associated with their neural primordium, the neural crest (NC). The NC is at the origin of multiple cell types and plays a major role in the construction of the head, which has been an important asset in the evolutionary success of vertebrates. We discuss here the contribution of the rostral domain of the NC to craniofacial skeletogenesis. Moreover, recent data show that cephalic NC cells regulate the activity of secondary brain organizers, hence being critical for preotic brain development, a role that had not been suspected before.

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