Neural crest cells migrate long distances and form divergent derivatives in vertebrate embryos. Despite previous efforts to identify genes up-regulated in neural crest populations, transcription factors have proved to be elusive due to relatively low expression levels and often transient expression. We screened newly induced neural crest cells for early target genes with the aim of identifying transcriptional regulators and other developmentally important genes. This yielded numerous candidate regulators, including 14 transcription factors, many of which were not previously associated with neural crest development. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction confirmed up-regulation of several transcription factors in newly induced neural crest populations in vitro. In a secondary screen by in situ hybridization, we verified the expression of >100 genes in the neural crest. We note that several of the transcription factors and other genes from the screen are expressed in other migratory cell populations and have been implicated in diverse forms of cancer.
- Neural crest
- Transcription factors