• neural crest;
  • embryonic stem cells;
  • Kit;
  • Sox10;
  • mouse


Multipotency of neural crest cells (NC cells) is thought to be a transient phase at the early stage of their generation; after NC cells emerge from the neural tube, they are specified into the lineage-restricted precursors. We analyzed the differentiation of early-stage NC-like cells derived from Sox10-IRES-Venus ES cells, where the expression of Sox10 can be visualized with a fluorescent protein. Unexpectedly, both the Sox10+/Kit− cells and the Sox10+/Kit+ cells, which were restricted in vivo to the neuron (N)-glial cell (G) lineage and melanocyte (M) lineage, respectively, generated N, G, and M, showing that they retain multipotency. We generated mice from the Sox10-IRES-Venus ES cells and analyzed the differentiation of their NC cells. Both the Sox10+/Kit− cells and Sox10+/Kit+ cells isolated from these mice formed colonies containing N, G, and M, showing that they are also multipotent. These findings suggest that NC cells retain multipotency even after the initial lineage-restricted stages. Developmental Dynamics 240:1681–1693, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.