The neural crest (NC) multipotent progenitor cells form at the neural plate border and migrate to diverse locations in the embryo to differentiate into many cell types. NC is specified by several embryonic pathways, however the role of noncanonical Wnt signaling in this process remains poorly defined. Daam1 is a formin family protein that is present in embryonic ectoderm at the time of NC formation and can mediate noncanonical Wnt signaling. Our interference experiments indicated that Daam1 is required for NC gene activation. To further study the function of Daam1 in NC development we used a transgenic reporter Xenopus line, in which GFP transcription is driven by sox10 upstream regulatory sequences. The activation of the sox10:GFP reporter in a subset of NC cells was suppressed after Daam1 depletion and in embryos expressing N-Daam1, a dominant interfering construct. Moreover, N-Daam1 blocked reporter activation in neuralized ectodermal explants in response to Wnt11, but not Wnt8 or Wnt3a, confirming that the downstream pathways are different. In complementary experiments, a constitutively active Daam1 fragment expanded the NC territory, but this gain-of-function activity was eliminated in a construct with a point mutation in the FH2 domain that is critical for actin polymerization. These observations suggest a new role of Daam1 and actin remodeling in NC specification.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology