The neural crest is a unique population of cells that contributes to the formation of diverse cell types, including craniofacial cartilage, peripheral neurons, the cardiac outflow tract, and pigment cells. Neural crest cells (NCCs) are specified within the neuroepithelium, undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and migrate to target destinations throughout the embryo. Here, we review current understanding of two steps in NCC development, both of which involve NCC motility. The first is NCC delamination from the neuroepithelium and the changes in cell adhesion and the cytoskeleton necessary for the initiation of migration. The second is NCC migration and the signals that guide NCCs along specific migratory pathways. We illustrate the strength of the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a model organism to study NCC motility. The zebrafish is particularly well suited for the study of neural crest motility because of the ability to combine genetic manipulation with live imaging of migrating NCCs.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.