We are interested in understanding of the molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms involved in the patterning of the early neural plate during vertebrate embryogenesis. There are several different populations of cells at the lateral border of the neural plate: Neural crest cells, Rohon-Beard sensory neurons, and placodal cells. One of these cell populations, namely neural crest cells, have the extraordinary ability to retain stem cell characteristics during development and give rise to multiple derivatives, including peripheral neurons, pigment cells and craniofacial cartilage. This combination has made it an attractive model system to study cell fate determination. To identity the molecular mechanisms involved in specifying these cells, we have focused on the role of transciption factors in this process. We have recently determined that a zinc finger transcription factor, prdm1, is required for the specification of neural crest cells and Rohon-Beard sensory neurons (Hernandez-Lagunas, 2005). Further, we have recently shown that a homeobox transcription factor, Dlx3b/4b, is involved in positioning where the border of the neural plate forms in Xenopus (Woda et al, 2003) and in zebrafish (Kaji and Artinger, 2004). Interestingly, all cells of the border region are affected after manipulation of Dlx3b/4b expression, but neural crest cells are affected to a lesser degree. By studying these transcription factors, we hope to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms responsible for specifying the cells at the neural plate border.
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Belting, H-G., Hauptmann, G., Meyer, D., Abdelilah-Seyfried, S., Chitnis, A., Eschbach, C., Thisse, C., Thisse, B., Soll, I., Artinger, K.B., Lunde, K., Driever, W. (2001) spiel ohne grenzen/pou2 is involved in initiation of the zebrafish midbrain-hindbrain boundary. Development 128, 4165-76
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Zhang, C., Basta, T., Hernandez-Lagunas, L., Simpson, P., Stemple, D., Artinger, K.B., Klymkowsky, M.W. (2004) Repression of nodal expression by maternal B1-type SOXs regulates germ layer formation in Xenopus and zebrafish, Developmental Biology 273, 23-37.
Kaji, T. and Artinger, K.B. (2004) dlx3b and dlx4b function in the formation of Rohon-Beard Sensory neurons and Trigminal plaocdes in the zebrafish neurula Developmental Biology 276(2),523-40
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