Honjo, Y., Kniss, J., and Eisen, J.S. (2008) Neuregulin-mediated ErbB3 signaling is required for formation of zebrafish dorsal root ganglion neurons. Development (Cambridge, England). 135(15):2615-2625.
Dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) arise from trunk neural crest cells that emerge from the dorsal neuroepithelium and coalesce into segmental streams that migrate ventrally along the developing somites. Proper formation of DRGs involves not only normal trunk neural crest migration, but also the ability of DRG progenitors to pause at a particular target location where they can receive DRG-promoting signals. In mammalian embryos, a receptor tyrosine kinase proto-oncogene, ErbB3, is required for proper trunk neural crest migration. Here, we show that in zebrafish mutants lacking ErbB3 function, neural crest cells do not pause at the location where DRGs normally form and DRG neurons are not generated. We also show that these mutants lack trunk neural crest-derived sympathetic neurons, but that cranial neural crest-derived enteric neurons appear normal. We isolated three genes encoding neuregulins, ErbB3 ligands, and show that two neuregulins function together in zebrafish trunk neural crest cell migration and in DRG formation. Together, our results suggest that ErbB3 signaling is required for normal migration of trunk, but not cranial, neural crest cells.