The dorsal domains of the neural tube and somites are transient embryonic epithelia; they constitute the source of neural crest progenitors that generate the peripheral nervous system, pigment cells and ectomesenchyme, and of the dermomyotome that develops into myocytes, dermis and vascular cells, respectively. Based on the variety of derivatives produced by each type of epithelium, a classical yet still highly relevant question is whether these embryonic epithelia are composed of homogeneous multipotent progenitors or, alternatively, of subsets of fate-restricted cells. Growing evidence substantiates the notion that both the dorsal tube and the dermomyotome are heterogeneous epithelia composed of multipotent as well as fate-restricted precursors that emerge as such in a spatio-temporally regulated manner. Elucidation of the state of commitment of the precedent progenitors is of utmost significance for deciphering the mechanisms that regulate fate segregation during embryogenesis. In addition, it will contribute to understanding the nature of well documented neural crest-somite interactions shown to modulate the timing of neural crest cell emigration, their segmental migration, and myogenesis.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Neural tube
- Peripheral nervous system
- Smooth muscle