Embryonic neural crest cells contribute to the development of the craniofacial mesenchyme, forebrain meninges and perivascular cells. In this study, we investigated the function of β-catenin signaling in neural crest cells abutting the dorsal forebrain during development. In the absence of β-catenin signaling, neural crest cells failed to expand in the interhemispheric region and produced ectopic smooth muscle cells instead of generating dermal and calvarial mesenchyme. In contrast, constitutive expression of stabilized β-catenin in neural crest cells increased the number of mesenchymal lineage precursors suggesting that β-catenin signaling is necessary for the expansion of neural crest-derived mesenchymal cells. Interestingly, the loss of neural crest-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) leads to failure of telencephalic midline invagination and causes ventricular system defects. This study shows that β-catenin signaling is required for the switch of neural crest cells to MSCs and mediates the expansion of MSCs to drive the formation of mesenchymal structures of the head. Furthermore, loss of these structures causes striking defects in forebrain morphogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)