In vivo transplantation of mammalian neural crest cells into chick hosts reveals a new autonomic sublineage restriction. Academic Article uri icon


  • The study of mammalian neural crest development has been limited by the lack of an accessible system for in vivo transplantation of these cells. We have developed a novel transplantation system to study lineage restriction in the rodent neural crest. Migratory rat neural crest cells (NCCs), transplanted into chicken embryos, can differentiate into sensory, sympathetic, and parasympathetic neurons, as shown by the expression of neuronal subtype-specific and pan-neuronal markers, as well as into Schwann cells and satellite glia. In contrast, an immunopurified population of enteric neural precursors (ENPs) from the fetal gut can also generate neurons in all of these ganglia, but only expresses appropriate neuronal subtype markers in Remak's and associated pelvic parasympathetic ganglia. ENPs also appear restricted in the kinds of glia they can generate in comparison to NCCs. Thus ENPs have parasympathetic and presumably enteric capacities, but not sympathetic or sensory capacities. These results identify a new autonomic lineage restriction in the neural crest, and suggest that this restriction preceeds the choice between neuronal and glial fates.

publication date

  • October 1999