Transcription factors Pax3 and Zic1 are two important regulators of cell fate decision at the neural plate border, where they act synergistically to promote neural crest (NC) formation. To understand the role of these factors in NC development, we performed a microarray analysis to identify downstream targets of Pax3 and Zic1 in Xenopus embryos. Among the genes identified was a member of transcription factor activator protein 2 (Tfap2) family, Tfap2 epsilon (Tfap2e). Tfap2e is first expressed at early neurula stage in NC progenitors and Rohon-Beard sensory neurons, and persists in a subset of migrating cranial NC cells as they populate the pharyngeal arches. This is in contrast to other species in which Tfap2e is not detected in the early NC lineage. Tfap2e morpholino-mediated knockdown results in a loss of NC progenitors and an expansion of the neural plate. Tfap2e is also sufficient to activate NC-specific genes in animal cap explants, and gain-of-function experiments in the whole embryo indicate that Tfap2e can promote NC formation. We propose that Tfap2e is a novel player in the gene regulatory network controlling NC specification in Xenopus downstream of Pax3 and Zic1.
- Neural crest
- Sensory neuron
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience