Gene array analysis of neural crest cells identifies transcription factors necessary for direct conversion of embryonic fibroblasts into neural crest cells
The neural crest is a stem/progenitor cell population that contributes to a wide variety of derivatives, including sensory and autonomic ganglia, cartilage and bone of the face and pigment cells of the skin. Unique to vertebrate embryos, it has served as an excellent model system for the study of cell behavior and identity owing to its multipotency, motility and ability to form a broad array of cell types. Neural crest development is thought to be controlled by a suite of transcriptional and epigenetic inputs arranged hierarchically in a gene regulatory network. Here, we examine neural crest development from a gene regulatory perspective and discuss how the underlying genetic circuitry results in the features that define this unique cell population.