The neural crest

Development. 2013 Jun;140(11):2247-51. doi: 10.1242/dev.091751.


The neural crest (NC) is a highly migratory multipotent cell population that forms at the interface between the neuroepithelium and the prospective epidermis of a developing embryo. Following extensive migration throughout the embryo, NC cells eventually settle to differentiate into multiple cell types, ranging from neurons and glial cells of the peripheral nervous system to pigment cells, fibroblasts to smooth muscle cells, and odontoblasts to adipocytes. NC cells migrate in large numbers and their migration is regulated by multiple mechanisms, including chemotaxis, contact-inhibition of locomotion and cell sorting. Here, we provide an overview of NC formation, differentiation and migration, highlighting the molecular mechanisms governing NC migration.

Keywords: Cancer; Cell migration; Chemotaxis; Contact-inhibition of locomotion; Epithelium-to-mesenchyme transition; Neural crest cells; Neurocristopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement*
  • Chemotaxis
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neural Crest / embryology
  • Neural Crest / physiology*
  • Xenopus
  • Zebrafish