PleiotRHOpic: Rho pathways are essential for all stages of Neural Crest development

Small GTPases. 2014;5:e27975. doi: 10.4161/sgtp.27975. Epub 2014 Mar 10.


Neural Crest (NC) cells are a multipotent migratory stem cell population unique to vertebrates, which contributes extensively to the formation of a wide array of neural and non-neural structures in the embryo. NC cells originate in the ectoderm at the border of the neural tube, undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition and acquire outstanding individual and collective migratory properties that allow them to disseminate and differentiate to different parts of the body. This exquisite capacity to switch from an epithelium to motile cells represents both a puzzling biological issue and an attractive model to address the basic mechanisms of cell migration and their alteration during cancer progression. Here we review how signaling pathways controlled by Rho GTPases, key players in cell adhesion, contraction, migration and polarity, contribute to the control the different phases of NC development.

Keywords: EMT; Neural Crest; Rho GTPases; collective migration; signaling pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Humans
  • Neural Crest / growth & development*
  • Neural Crest / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • rhoB GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rhoB GTP-Binding Protein