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Insights into Neural Crest Evolution


Uy, Benjamin Robert (2016) Insights into Neural Crest Evolution. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z99K486C.


Neural crest cells are unique to vertebrates and essential to the development and evolution of the craniofacial skeleton. Using a combination of DiI cell lineage tracing, transcriptomics, and analysis of key transcription factors of the Sox Family, I examined neural crest development in the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, as the most basal extant vertebrate from which it is possible to get embryos. The results have uncovered distinct cranial and trunk neural crest subpopulations along the anterior-posterior axis of the lamprey embryo, with a clear separation between the two. However, no evidence of the presence of an intermediate vagal neural crest population was uncovered. Comparing cranial neural crest genes between lamprey and chick, either by examining individual candidate genes or whole genome transcriptome analysis, reveals significant changes in the cranial neural crest gene regulatory network of lamprey compared with chick. In particular, the lamprey cranial neural crest is "missing" several gnathostome cranial crest genes. We speculate that these may underlie the evolutionary divergence of craniofacial development between jawed and jawless vertebrates. Despite the absence of vagal neural crest, DiI-labeling shows that trunk neural crest-derived cells, likely homologous to mammalian Schwann cell precursors, contribute to the lamprey enteric nervous system, potentially representing the most primitive form of neural crest cells contribution to the ENS. Finally, I characterized key members of the Sox Family (Sox B-F) due to their importance in neural crest specification in other species. In comparative studies of the SoxC genes (Sox4, Sox11, and Sox12) in both lamprey and Xenopus, I found similar expression patterns and a novel key role in early neural crest specification, suggesting a conserved role of the SoxC genes amongst vertebrates. Taken together, this work represents important progress in characterizing the early evolution of the neural crest in vertebrates and its role in the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Lamprey, Neural Crest, SoxC, Enteric Nervous System, Vagal Neural Crest, Cranial Neural Crest
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bronner, Marianne E.
Thesis Committee:
  • Stathopoulos, Angelike (chair)
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
  • Moore, Jonathan
  • Bronner, Marianne E.
Defense Date:4 March 2016
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHTraining grant
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03092016-182739355
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralUy, B., Simoes-Costa, M., Sauka-Spengler, T., and Bronner-ME. (2012) Expression of Sox genes in lamprey development. Int. J. of Dev. Biol. 56: 377 – 383. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.113416bu CentralB.R. Uy, M. Simoes-Costa, D.E. Koo, T. Sauka-Spengler, M.E. Bronner, (2015) Evolutionarily conserved role for SoxC genes in neural crest specification and neuronal differentiation. Dev. Biol., 397 (2015), pp. 282–292 doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.09.022*Haming, D., *Simoes-Costa, M., Uy, B., Valencia, J., Sauka-Spengler, T, Bronner, M.E., (2011) Expression of Sympathetic Nervous System Genes in Lamprey Suggests Their Recruitment for Specification of a New Vertebrate Feature. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26543. d CentralModrell, M., Hockman, D. Uy, B., Sauka-Spengler, T., Bronner, M.E & Baker, C. (2014) A fate-map for cranial sensory ganglia in the sea lamprey. Dev. Biol. vol. 385, pp. 405-416. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.10.021
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9609
Deposited By: Benjamin Uy
Deposited On:19 May 2016 21:11
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:17

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