Vagal neural crest cell migratory behavior: A transition between the cranial and trunk crest

Authors

  • Bryan R. Kuo,

    1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis, California
    Current affiliation:
    1. Zuo Laboratory, Department of Developmental Neurobiology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Mail Stop 323, Memphis, TN 38103.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carol A. Erickson

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis, California
    • Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Migration and differentiation of cranial neural crest cells are largely controlled by environmental cues, whereas pathfinding at the trunk level is dictated by cell-autonomous molecular changes owing to early specification of the premigratory crest. Here, we investigated the migration and patterning of vagal neural crest cells. We show that (1) vagal neural crest cells exhibit some developmental bias, and (2) they take separate pathways to the heart and to the gut. Together these observations suggest that prior specification dictates initial pathway choice. However, when we challenged the vagal neural crest cells with different migratory environments, we observed that the behavior of the anterior vagal neural crest cells (somite-level 1–3) exhibit considerable migratory plasticity, whereas the posterior vagal neural crest cells (somite-level 5–7) are more restricted in their behavior. We conclude that the vagal neural crest is a transitional population that has evolved between the head and the trunk. Developmental Dynamics 240:2084–2100, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary