Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2012 Feb 7;(60):3622.
doi: 10.3791/3622.

Analysis of Neural Crest Migration and Differentiation by Cross-Species Transplantation

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Analysis of Neural Crest Migration and Differentiation by Cross-Species Transplantation

Shannon L Griswold et al. J Vis Exp. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Avian embryos provide a unique platform for studying many vertebrate developmental processes, due to the easy access of the embryos within the egg. Chimeric avian embryos, in which quail donor tissue is transplanted into a chick embryo in ovo, combine the power of indelible genetic labeling of cell populations with the ease of manipulation presented by the avian embryo. Quail-chick chimeras are a classical tool for tracing migratory neural crest cells (NCCs). NCCs are a transient migratory population of cells in the embryo, which originate in the dorsal region of the developing neural tube. They undergo an epithelial to mesenchymal transition and subsequently migrate to other regions of the embryo, where they differentiate into various cell types including cartilage, melanocytes, neurons and glia. NCCs are multipotent, and their ultimate fate is influenced by 1) the region of the neural tube in which they originate along the rostro-caudal axis of the embryo, 2) signals from neighboring cells as they migrate, and 3) the microenvironment of their ultimate destination within the embryo. Tracing these cells from their point of origin at the neural tube, to their final position and fate within the embryo, provides important insight into the developmental processes that regulate patterning and organogenesis. Transplantation of complementary regions of donor neural tube (homotopic grafting) or different regions of donor neural tube (heterotopic grafting) can reveal differences in pre-specification of NCCs along the rostro-caudal axis. This technique can be further adapted to transplant a unilateral compartment of the neural tube, such that one side is derived from donor tissue, and the contralateral side remains unperturbed in the host embryo, yielding an internal control within the same sample. It can also be adapted for transplantation of brain segments in later embryos, after HH10, when the anterior neural tube has closed. Here we report techniques for generating quail-chick chimeras via neural tube transplantation, which allow for tracing of migratory NCCs derived from a discrete segment of the neural tube. Species-specific labeling of the donor-derived cells with the quail-specific QCPN antibody allows the researcher to distinguish donor and host cells at the experimental end point. This technique is straightforward, inexpensive, and has many applications, including fate-mapping, cell lineage tracing, and identifying pre-patterning events along the rostro-caudal axis. Because of the ease of access to the avian embryo, the quail-chick graft technique may be combined with other manipulations, including but not limited to lens ablation, injection of inhibitory molecules, or genetic manipulation via electroporation of expression plasmids, to identify the response of particular migratory streams of NCCs to perturbations in the embryo's developmental program. Furthermore, this grafting technique may also be used to generate other interspecific chimeric embryos such as quail-duck chimeras to study NCC contribution to craniofacial morphogenesis, or mouse-chick chimeras to combine the power of mouse genetics with the ease of manipulation of the avian embryo.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 4 articles

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback