The expression of tenascin by neural crest cells and glia

Richard P Tucker, Sharen E. McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The extracellular matrix glycoprotein tenascin is concentrated in both the embryo and adult in regions where cell motility is taking place. For example, during avian neural crest morphogenesis tenascin is concentrated in the rostral half of the sclerotome, precisely where the neural crest cells themselves are found. Previous in vitro studies indicated that somite cells were the source of this tenascin, implying a role for tenascin in directing the ventral migration of neural crest cells and thus the establishment of the periodic arrangement of the PNS. In this study, we have used a cDNA probe to identify the source of tenascin found along the pathways of the neural crest using in situ hybridization. In tissue sections, individual cells found along the neural crest migratory pathways, both before entering the somites and within the somites, are strongly labelled by the tenascin cDNA. In vitro neural crest cells are more strongly labelled with the tenascin probe than somite cells. Finally, western blotting has been used to identify tenascin in culture medium conditioned by neural crest cells. This indicates that neural crest cells themselves are the source of much of the tenascin found lining their migratory pathways, and that interactions with somite cells may not be needed to induce the expression of tenascin. We have also studied the distribution of tenascin mRNA in the developing spinal cord and spinal ganglia. At embryonic days 7 and 10, tenascin cDNA hybridizes within cells that appear to be migrating from the ependymal layer to the white matter, as well as within cells in the dorsal roots. The hybridization is transient, as tenascin mRNA is no longer detected at E18. Thus, the role of tenascin in neural crest and CNS morphogenesis is not related to defining routes of migration, but perhaps to generating a local environment that supports motility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1039
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell migration
  • Differentiation
  • Glia
  • Neural crest
  • Tenascin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy


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