In the head of vertebrate embryos, neural crest cells migrate from the neural tube into the presumptive facial region and condense to form cranial ganglia and skeletal elements in the branchial arches. We show that newly formed neural folds and migrating neural crest cells express the neuropilin 2 (npn2) receptor in a manner that is highly conserved in amniotes. The repulsive npn2 ligand semaphorin (sema) 3F is expressed in a complementary pattern in the mouse. Furthermore, mice carrying null mutations for either npn2 or sema3F have abnormal cranial neural crest migration. Most notably, "bridges" of migrating cells are observed crossing between neural crest streams entering branchial arches 1 and 2. In addition, trigeminal ganglia fail to form correctly in the mutants and are improperly condensed and loosely organized. These data show that npn2/sema3F signaling is required for proper cranial neural crest development in the head.
(c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.