Induction of the neural crest state: control of stem cell attributes by gene regulatory, post-transcriptional and epigenetic interactions.
Prasad MS., Sauka-Spengler T., LaBonne C.
Neural crest cells are a population of multipotent stem cell-like progenitors that arise at the neural plate border in vertebrates, migrate extensively, and give rise to diverse derivatives such as melanocytes, craniofacial cartilage and bone, smooth muscle, peripheral and enteric neurons and glia. The neural crest gene regulatory network (NC-GRN) includes a number of key factors that are used reiteratively to control multiple steps in the development of neural crest cells, including the acquisition of stem cell attributes. It is therefore essential to understand the mechanisms that control the distinct functions of such reiteratively used factors in different cellular contexts. The context-dependent control of neural crest specification is achieved through combinatorial interaction with other factors, post-transcriptional and post-translational modifications, and the epigenetic status and chromatin state of target genes. Here we review the current understanding of the NC-GRN, including the role of the neural crest specifiers, their links to the control of "stemness," and their dynamic context-dependent regulation during the formation of neural crest progenitors.