Robo signaling regulates the production of cranial neural crest cells

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Abstract

Slit/Robo signaling plays an important role in the guidance of developing neurons in developing embryos. However, it remains obscure whether and how Slit/Robo signaling is involved in the production of cranial neural crest cells. In this study, we examined Robo1 deficient mice to reveal developmental defects of mouse cranial frontal and parietal bones, which are derivatives of cranial neural crest cells. Therefore, we determined the production of HNK1+ cranial neural crest cells in early chick embryo development after knock-down (KD) of Robo1 expression. Detection of markers for pre-migratory and migratory neural crest cells, PAX7 and AP-2α, showed that production of both was affected by Robo1 KD. In addition, we found that the transcription factor slug is responsible for the aberrant delamination/EMT of cranial neural crest cells induced by Robo1 KD, which also led to elevated expression of E- and N-Cadherin. N-Cadherin expression was enhanced when blocking FGF signaling with dominant-negative FGFR1 in half of the neural tube. Taken together, we show that Slit/Robo signaling influences the delamination/EMT of cranial neural crest cells, which is required for cranial bone development.

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