Culbertson, M.D., Lewis, Z.R., and Nechiporuk, A.V. (2011) Chondrogenic and Gliogenic Subpopulations of Neural Crest Play Distinct Roles during the Assembly of Epibranchial Ganglia. PLoS One. 6(9):e24443.
In vertebrates, the sensory neurons of the epibranchial (EB) ganglia transmit somatosensory signals from the periphery to the CNS. These ganglia are formed during embryogenesis by the convergence and condensation of two distinct populations of precursors: placode-derived neuroblasts and neural crest- (NC) derived glial precursors. In addition to the gliogenic crest, chondrogenic NC migrates into the pharyngeal arches, which lie in close proximity to the EB placodes and ganglia. Here, we examine the respective roles of these two distinct NC-derived populations during development of the EB ganglia using zebrafish morphant and mutants that lack one or both of these NC populations. Our analyses of mutant and morphant zebrafish that exhibit deficiencies in chondrogenic NC at early stages reveal a distinct requirement for this NC subpopulation during early EB ganglion assembly and segmentation. Furthermore, restoration of wildtype chondrogenic NC in one of these mutants, prdm1a, is sufficient to restore ganglion formation, indicating a specific requirement of the chondrogenic NC for EB ganglia assembly. By contrast, analysis of the sox10 mutant, which lacks gliogenic NC, reveals that the initial assembly of ganglia is not affected. However, during later stages of development, EB ganglia are dispersed in the sox10 mutant, suggesting that glia are required to maintain normal EB ganglion morphology. These results highlight novel roles for two subpopulations of NC cells in the formation and maintenance of EB ganglia: chondrogenic NC promotes the early-stage formation of the developing EB ganglia while glial NC is required for the late-stage maintenance of ganglion morphology.