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Gene Expr Patterns. 2018 Jan;27:67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2017.11.001. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

Spatiotemporal expression pattern of Connexin 43 during early chick embryogenesis.

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Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA. Electronic address:


During embryogenesis, a single cell develops into new tissues and organs that are made up of a number of different cell types. The assembly of the trigeminal ganglion (cranial nerve V), an important component of the peripheral nervous system, typifies this process. The trigeminal ganglia perform key sensory functions, including sensing pain and touch in the face, and arise from cells of two different progenitor populations, the neural crest and the cranial placodes. One question that remains poorly understood is how these two populations of cells interact with each other during development to form a functional ganglion. Gap junctions are intercellular channels that allow for the passage of small solutes between connected cells and could serve as one potential mechanism by which neural crest and placode cells communicate to create the trigeminal ganglia. To this end, we have generated a comprehensive spatiotemporal expression profile for the gap junction protein Connexin 43, a highly expressed member of the Connexin protein family during development. Our results reveal that Connexin 43 is expressed in the neural folds during neural fold fusion and in premigratory neural crest cells prior to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), during EMT, and in migratory neural crest cells. During trigeminal gangliogenesis, Connexin 43 is expressed in cranial neural crest cells and the mesenchyme but is strikingly absent in the placode-derived neurons. These data underscore the complexity of bringing two distinct cell populations together to form a new tissue during development and suggest that Connexin 43 may play a key role within neural crest cells during EMT, migration, and trigeminal gangliogenesis.

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