Purification, culture and multi-lineage differentiation of zebrafish neural crest cells

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Harvard Medical School, Drs. Beste Kinikoglu and Yawei Kong, led by Dr. Eric C. Liao, cultured and characterized for the first time multipotent neural crest cells isolated from zebrafish embryos. This important study is reported in the February 2014 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Neural crest is a unique cell population induced at the lateral border of the neural plate during embryogenesis and vertebrate development depends on these multipotent migratory . Defects in neural crest development result in a wide range of malformations, such as cleft lip and palate, and diseases, such as melanoma. Dr. Liao's laboratory uses zebrafish as a model vertebrate to study the genetic basis of neural crest related craniofacial malformations. Zebrafish has long been used to study early development and recently emerged as a model to study disease. "Development of in vitro culture of neural crest cells and reproducible functional assays will provide a valuable and complementary approach to the in vivo experiments in zebrafish" said Dr. Eric C. Liao, senior author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Surgery at MGH, and Principal Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

The team took advantage of the sox 10 reporter transgenic model to enrich and isolate the (NCCs), which were subsequently cultured under optimized culture conditions. Cultured NCCs were found to express major neural crest lineage markers such as sox10, sox9a, hnk1, p75, dlx2a, and pax3, and the pluripotency markers c-myc and klf4. The cells could be further differentiated into multiple neural crest lineages, contributing to neurons, glial cells, smooth muscle cells, melanocytes, and chondrocytes. Using the functional cell behavior assays that they developed, the team was able to assess the influence of retinoic acid, an endogenously synthesized, powerful, morphogenetic molecule, on NCC behavior. This study showed that retinoic acid had a profound effect on NCC morphology and differentiation, significantly inhibited proliferation and enhanced cell migration. The data implicate NCCs as a target cell population for retinoic acid and suggest that it plays multiple critical roles in NCC development.

"We hope that our novel neural crest system will be useful to gain mechanistic understanding of NCC development and for cell-based high-throughput drug screening applications" said Dr. Beste Kinikoglu, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Liao's laboratory and the study's first author. Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine said "Liao and colleagues have provided the first zebrafish embryo derived NCC pure population in vitro model for the study of development. I believe that this will be a valuable tool for this purpose".

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New cranial neural crest cell line developed

Sep 19, 2012

Researchers have successfully developed a stable population of neural crest cells derived from mice that can be grown in large quantities in the laboratory and that demonstrates the potential to develop into ...

What decides neural stem cell fate?

May 05, 2011

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and their collaborators found that expression of a gene called SOX2 maintains the potential for neural crest stem cells to become neurons in the peripheral nervous ...

Recommended for you

Infant cooing, babbling linked to hearing ability

5 hours ago

Infants' vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount ...

Developing 'tissue chip' to screen neurological toxins

6 hours ago

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research is creating a faster, more affordable way to screen for neural toxins, helping flag chemicals that ...

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

10 hours ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

12 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

User comments