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A novel spalt gene expressed in branchial arches affects the ability of cranial neural crest cells to populate sensory ganglia

  • MEYER BAREMBAUM (a1) and MARIANNE BRONNER-FRASER (a1)

Abstract

Cranial neural crest cells differentiate into diverse derivatives including neurons and glia of the cranial ganglia, and cartilage and bone of the facial skeleton. Here, we explore the function of a novel transcription factor of the spalt family that might be involved in early cell-lineage decisions of the avian neural crest. The chicken spalt4 gene (csal4) is expressed in the neural tube, migrating neural crest, branchial arches and, transiently, in the cranial ectoderm. Later, it is expressed in the mesectodermal, but not neuronal or glial, derivatives of midbrain and hindbrain neural crest. After over-expression by electroporation into the cranial neural tube and neural crest, we observed a marked redistribution of electroporated neural crest cells in the vicinity of the trigeminal ganglion. In control-electroporated embryos, numerous, labeled neural crest cells (∼80% of the population) entered the ganglion, many of which differentiated into neurons. By contrast, few (∼30% of the population) spalt-electroporated neural crest cells entered the trigeminal ganglion. Instead, they localized in the mesenchyme around the ganglionic periphery or continued further ventrally to the branchial arches. Interestingly, little or no expression of differentiation markers for neurons or other cell types was observed in spalt-electroporated neural crest cells.

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Corresponding author

Marianne Bronner-Fraser, Division of Biology, 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. phone: +1 626 395 3355; fax: +1 626 395 7717. email: mbronner@caltech.edu

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