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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 19;110(8):2882-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211747110. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Phosphorylation of Sox9 is required for neural crest delamination and is regulated downstream of BMP and canonical Wnt signaling.

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Department of Biochemistry, Centre for Reproduction, Development and Growth, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Coordination of neural crest cell (NCC) induction and delamination is orchestrated by several transcription factors. Among these, Sry-related HMG box-9 (Sox9) and Snail2 have been implicated in both the induction of NCC identity and, together with phoshorylation, NCC delamination. How phosphorylation effects this function has not been clear. Here we show, in the developing chick neural tube, that phosphorylation of Sox9 on S64 and S181 facilitates its SUMOylation, and the phosphorylated forms of Sox9 are essential for trunk neural crest delamination. Both phosphorylation and to a lesser extent SUMOylation, of Sox9 are required to cooperate with Snail2 to promote delamination. Moreover, bone morphogenetic protein and canonical Wnt signaling induce phosphorylation of Sox9, thereby connecting extracellular signals with the delamination of NCCs. Together the data suggest a model in which extracellular signals initiate phosphorylation of Sox9 and its cooperation with Snail2 to induce NCC delamination.

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