Identification of Pax3 and Zic1 targets in the developing neural crest

Chang Joon Bae, Byung Yong Park, Young Hoon Lee, John W. Tobias, Chang Soo Hong, Jean Pierre Saint-Jeannet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The neural crest (NC) is a multipotent population of migratory cells unique to the vertebrate embryo, contributing to the development of multiple organ systems. Transcription factors pax3 and zic1 are among the earliest genes activated in NC progenitors, and they are both necessary and sufficient to promote NC fate. In order to further characterize the function of these transcription factors during NC development we have used hormone inducible fusion proteins in a Xenopus animal cap assay, and DNA microarray to identify downstream targets of Pax3 and Zic1. Here we present the results of this screen and the initial validation of these targets using quantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization and morpholinos-mediated knockdown. Among the targets identified we found several well-characterized NC-specific genes, including snail2, foxd3, gbx2, twist, sox8 and sox9, which validate our approach. We also obtained several factors with no known function in Xenopus NC, which represent novel regulators of NC fate. The comprehensive characterization of Pax3 and Zic1 targets function in the NC gene regulatory network, are essential to understanding the mechanisms regulating the emergence of this important cell population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-483
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Gene regulatory network
  • Microarray
  • Neural crest
  • Pax3
  • Xenopus
  • Zic1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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