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Keywords:

  • cell migration;
  • chemotaxis;
  • dermis;
  • embryonic surgeries;
  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition;
  • guidance cues;
  • melanoblasts;
  • neural crest

Abstract

Neural crest melanoblasts display unique navigational abilities enabling them to colonize the dorsal path between ectoderm and somite. One signal shown here to elicit melanoblast migration is a chemotactic cue supplied by the emerging dermis. Until dermis emerges, melanoblasts fail to enter the dorsal path. The dermis emerges from a site that is too distant to stimulate migration by cell contact. Instead, surgeries show that dermis elicits migration from a distance. When dermis is grafted distally, neural crest cells enter the path precociously. Moreover, large grafts recruit melanoblasts from the control sides (without increasing crest cell numbers) as well as a few crest cells from ventral somite. Because other grafted tissues fail to stimulate migration, the dermis stimulus is specific. This report is the first documentation that trunk neural crest cells can be guided chemotactically. It also extends evidence that migration is exquisitely sensitive to temporal–spatial patterns of somite morphogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 229:99–108, 2004. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.