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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2014 Sep;102(3):275-98. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.21081. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

The neural crest: a versatile organ system.

Author information

1
Embryology Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Abstract

The neural crest is the name given to the strip of cells at the junction between neural and epidermal ectoderm in neurula-stage vertebrate embryos, which is later brought to the dorsal neural tube as the neural folds elevate. The neural crest is a heterogeneous and multipotent progenitor cell population whose cells undergo EMT then extensively and accurately migrate throughout the embryo. Neural crest cells contribute to nearly every organ system in the body, with derivatives of neuronal, glial, neuroendocrine, pigment, and also mesodermal lineages. This breadth of developmental capacity has led to the neural crest being termed the fourth germ layer. The neural crest has occupied a prominent place in developmental biology, due to its exaggerated migratory morphogenesis and its remarkably wide developmental potential. As such, neural crest cells have become an attractive model for developmental biologists for studying these processes. Problems in neural crest development cause a number of human syndromes and birth defects known collectively as neurocristopathies; these include Treacher Collins syndrome, Hirschsprung disease, and 22q11.2 deletion syndromes. Tumors in the neural crest lineage are also of clinical importance, including the aggressive melanoma and neuroblastoma types. These clinical aspects have drawn attention to the selection or creation of neural crest progenitor cells, particularly of human origin, for studying pathologies of the neural crest at the cellular level, and also for possible cell therapeutics. The versatility of the neural crest lends itself to interlinked research, spanning basic developmental biology, birth defect research, oncology, and stem/progenitor cell biology and therapy.

KEYWORDS:

cell migration; neural crest; neurocristopathy; progenitor cell

PMID:
25227568
DOI:
10.1002/bdrc.21081
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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