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Mech Dev. 2012 Sep-Dec;129(9-12):275-83. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

The tight junction protein claudin-1 influences cranial neural crest cell emigration.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The neural crest is a population of migratory cells that follows specific pathways during development, eventually differentiating to form parts of the face, heart, and peripheral nervous system, the latter of which includes contributions from placodal cells derived from the ectoderm. Stationary, premigratory neural crest cells acquire the capacity to migrate by undergoing an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition that facilitates their emigration from the dorsal neural tube. This emigration involves, in part, the dismantling of cell-cell junctions, including apically localized tight junctions in the neuroepithelium. In this study, we have characterized the role of the transmembrane tight junction protein claudin-1 during neural crest and placode ontogeny. Our data indicate that claudin-1 is highly expressed in the developing neuroepithelium but is down-regulated in migratory neural crest cells, although expression persists in the ectoderm from which the placode cells arise. Depletion or overexpression of claudin-1 augments or reduces neural crest cell emigration, respectively, but does not impact the development of several cranial placodes. Taken together, our results reveal a novel function for a tight junction protein in the formation of migratory cranial neural crest cells in the developing vertebrate embryo.

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