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Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Aug;91(8):788-96. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20797. Epub 2011 May 25.

Epigenetic regulation in neural crest development.

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Yale Stem Cell Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The neural crest (NC) is a multipotent, migratory cell population that arises from the developing dorsal neural fold of vertebrate embryos. Once their fates are specified, neural crest cells (NCCs) migrate along defined routes and differentiate into a variety of tissues, including bone and cartilage of the craniofacial skeleton, peripheral neurons, glia, pigment cells, endocrine cells, and mesenchymal precursor cells (Santagati and Rijli,2003; Dupin et al.,2006; Hall,2009). Abnormal development of NCCs causes a number of human diseases, including ear abnormalities (including deafness), heart anomalies, neuroblastomas, and mandibulofacial dysostosis (Hall,2009). For more than a century, NCCs have attracted the attention of geneticists and developmental biologists for their stem cell-like properties, including self-renewal and multipotent differentiation potential. However, we have only begun to understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for their formation and behavior. Recent studies have demonstrated that epigenetic regulation plays important roles in NC development. In this review, we focused on some of the most recent findings on chromatin-mediated mechanisms for vertebrate NCC development.

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