Preparation and Morphological Analysis of Chick Cranial Neural Crest Cell Cultures

Bridget T. Jacques-Fricke, Julaine Roffers-Agarwal, Callie M. Gustafson, Laura S. Gammill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During vertebrate development, neural crest cells (NCCs) migrate extensively and differentiate into various cell types that contribute to structures like the craniofacial skeleton and the peripheral nervous system. While it is critical to understand NCC migration in the context of a 3D embryo, isolating migratory cells in 2D culture facilitates visualization and functional characterization, complementing embryonic studies. The present protocol demonstrates a method for isolating chick cranial neural folds to generate primary NCC cultures. Migratory NCCs emerge from neural fold explants plated onto a fibronectin-coated substrate. This results in dispersed, adherent NCC populations that can be assessed by staining and quantitative morphological analyses. This simplified culture approach is highly adaptable and can be combined with other techniques. For example, NCC emigration and migratory behaviors can be evaluated by time-lapse imaging or functionally queried by including inhibitors or experimental manipulations of gene expression (e.g., DNA, morpholino, or CRISPR electroporation). Because of its versatility, this method provides a powerful system for investigating cranial NCC development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere63799
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number184
StatePublished - Jun 2022

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