Assembling neural crest regulatory circuits into a gene regulatory network.
Betancur P., Bronner-Fraser M., Sauka-Spengler T.
The neural crest is a multipotent stem cell–like population that gives rise to a wide range of derivatives in the vertebrate embryo including elements of the craniofacial skeleton and peripheral nervous system as well as melanocytes. The neural crest forms in a series of regulatory steps that include induction and specification of the prospective neural crest territory–neural plate border, specification of bona fide neural crest progenitors, and differentiation into diverse derivatives. These individual processes during neural crest ontogeny are controlled by regulatory circuits that can be assembled into a hierarchical gene regulatory network (GRN). Here we present an overview of the GRN that orchestrates the formation of cranial neural crest cells. Formulation of this network relies on information largely inferred from gene perturbation studies performed in several vertebrate model organisms. Our representation of the cranial neural crest GRN also includes information about direct regulatory interactions obtained from the cis-regulatory analyses performed to date, which increases the resolution of the architectural circuitry within the network.