Sox10 regulates the development of neural crest-derived melanocytes in Xenopus

Yoichiro Aoki, Natasha Saint-Germain, Michael Gyda, Emily Magner-Fink, Young Hoon Lee, Christine Credidio, Jean Pierre Saint-Jeannet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transcription factors of the Sox family play important roles in diverse developmental processes. A number of genetic studies have established that Sox10 is a major regulator of neural crest formation. Here, we report the cloning and functional analysis of the Xenopus Sox10 gene. Sox10 mRNA accumulates during gastrulation at the lateral edges of the neural plate, in the neural crest-forming region. In this tissue, Sox10 expression is regulated by Wnt signaling and colocalizes with two major regulators of neural crest formation, Slug and Sox9. While initially expressed in neural crest cells from all axial levels, at the tailbud stage, Sox10 is downregulated in the cranial neural crest and persists mostly in neural crest cells from the trunk region. Overexpression of Sox10 causes a dramatic expansion of the Slug expression domain. We show that the C-terminal portion of Sox10 is sufficient to mediate this activity. Later during embryogenesis, Sox10-injected embryos show a massive increase in pigment cells (Trp-2-expressing cells). The responsiveness of the embryo to Sox10 overexpression by expansion of the Slug expression domain and ectopic production of Trp-2-positive cells and differentiated melanocytes is lost during gastrulation, as revealed by a hormone-inducible Sox10 construct. These results suggest that Sox10 is involved in the specification of neural crest progenitors fated to form the pigment cell lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-33
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Melanocytes
  • Neural crest
  • Slug
  • Sox10
  • Sox9
  • Trp-2
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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