Mechanisms of neural crest cell migration

Bioessays. 1993 Apr;15(4):221-30. doi: 10.1002/bies.950150402.


Neural crest cells are remarkable in their extensive and stereotypic patterns of migration. The pathways of neural crest migration have been documented by cell marking techniques, including interspecific neural tube grafts, immunocytochemistry and DiI-labelling. In the trunk, neural crest cells migrate dorsally under the skin or ventrally through the somites, where they move in a segmental fashion through the rostral half of each sclerotome. The segmental migration of neural crest cells appears to be prescribed by the somites, perhaps by an inhibitory cue from the caudal half. Within the rostral sclerotome, neural crest cells fill the available space except for a region around the notochord, suggesting the notochord may inhibit neural crest cells in its vicinity. In the cranial region, antibody perturbation experiments suggest that multiple cell-matrix interactions are required for proper in vivo migration of neural crest cells. Neural crest cells utilize integrin receptors to bind to a number of extracellular matrix molecules. Substrate selective inhibition of neural crest cell attachment in vitro by integrin antibodies and antisense oligonucleotides has demonstrated that they possess at least three integrins, one being an alpha 1 beta 1 integrin which functions in the absence of divalent cations. Thus, neural crest cells utilize complex sets of interactions which may differ at different axial levels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbocyanines
  • Cell Movement
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chimera
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Head / embryology
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Crest / cytology*
  • Notochord / physiology
  • Quail / embryology
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Carbocyanines
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Integrins
  • 3,3'-dioctadecylindocarbocyanine