Analysis of neural crest cell lineage and migration

J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol. Oct-Dec 1991;11(4):214-22.


In this review, we describe the results of recent experiments designed to investigate various aspects of neural crest cell lineage and migration. We have analyzed the lineage of individual premigratory neural crest cells by injecting a fluorescent lineage tracer dye, lysinated fluorescein dextran, into cells within the dorsal neural tube. Individual clones contained cells that were located in very diverse sites consistent with their being sensory neurons, prepigment cells, Schwann cells, adrenergic cells, and neural tube cells. These results suggest that some neural crest cells in the trunk and cranial regions are multipotent prior to their emigration from the neural tube. The environment through which neural crest cells move influences both the pattern and direction of their migration. We have shown that the sclerotomal portion of the somites are responsible for the rostrocaudal pattern of trunk neural crest cell movement, whereas the neural tube appears to govern the dorsoventral position of neural crest-derived ganglia. In addition, the notochord inhibits the movement of neural crest cells. In order to understand necessary cell-matrix interactions in neural crest migration, we have performed perturbation experiments, in which antibodies directed against cell surface or extracellular matrix molecules were introduced along neural crest pathways. We find that integrins, fibronectin, laminin, and tenascin all play some role in cranial neural crest emigration. Thus, multiple factors may be involved in controlling neural crest cell migration, and different factors may be important for migration in different regions of the embryo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / physiology
  • Fibronectins / physiology
  • Ganglia / embryology
  • Integrins / physiology
  • Laminin / physiology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neural Crest / embryology*
  • Notochord / physiology
  • Tenascin


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fibronectins
  • Integrins
  • Laminin
  • Tenascin