Research Topic

The Long Road to Building a Head: Smooth Travels and Accidents on the Journey from Patterning via Morphogenesis to Phenotype

About this Research Topic

A complex head made up of skull, brain and sensory organs is a trait of the vertebrates. The fate of the tissues that participate in head formation - neuroectoderm, neural crest, head mesoderm and sensory placodes - is specified during late gastrulation by biochemical and mechanical signaling cues. Inductive mechanisms, including crosstalk between signaling pathways, as well as cell-autonomous mechanisms, are important to pre-pattern the respective territories, which are then further patterned and specified by complex gene regulatory networks. By regulating the activity of intermediate players, patterning and specification events eventually elicit morphogenetic cell movements such as apical constriction, cell elongation, cell neighbor exchange, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migration. It is the intricate temporal and spatial orchestration of these morphogenetic dynamics that brings about neural tube closure, creates additional layers from the pseudostratified cranial neuroectoderm, and facilitates neural crest delamination and migration. Accidents happening anywhere on that developmental road impair morphogenesis and result in neural and craniofacial malformations.

The main goal of this Research Topic is to bring together contributions that analyze how neural patterning and specification is connected to cranial morphogenesis in health and disease. We welcome studies that provide new insights into tissue patterning and morphogenesis in the healthy organism. We also strongly invite work that sheds light on the connection between morphological phenotypes and their respective genotypes. In this context, work that addresses the pathogenic mechanisms of gene variants leading up to morphogenetic defects is especially welcome, as it helps to better understand the etiology of developmental disorders of the brain, face and skull. We encourage developmental biologists, biophysicists and clinicians to contribute to this research topic with original research, reviews and opinions that address morphogenetic events shaping the neuroectoderm, neural crest and sensory placodes. These could include but are not limited to the following areas:

• Morphogen / growth factor signaling pathway regulation in the patterning and induction of morphogenetic cell movements
• Cell shape changes and tissue rearrangement induced by single or a combination of factors of a gene regulatory network
• Regulation of cytoskeletal arrangement and biomechanics by upstream patterning / specification events
• Regulation of cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions
• Specification and differentiation events in neuroepithelial stem and progenitor cells leading to cell shape and cell behavior changes
• Impact of environmental aspects such as nutrients and toxins that cause brain and craniofacial defects due to cell shape changes and deficits in morphogenesis
• Cell proliferation and migration events leading to the formation of multi-layered brain tissue from neuroectodermal progenitor cells
• Branchial arches’ roles as regulatory centers for craniofacial morphogenesis
• Migration of neuroepithelial progenitors
• Specification, delamination and migration of cranial neural crest cells and their integration into target tissues

A full list of accepted article types, including descriptions, can be found at this link


Keywords: neural patterning, cranial morphogenesis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

A complex head made up of skull, brain and sensory organs is a trait of the vertebrates. The fate of the tissues that participate in head formation - neuroectoderm, neural crest, head mesoderm and sensory placodes - is specified during late gastrulation by biochemical and mechanical signaling cues. Inductive mechanisms, including crosstalk between signaling pathways, as well as cell-autonomous mechanisms, are important to pre-pattern the respective territories, which are then further patterned and specified by complex gene regulatory networks. By regulating the activity of intermediate players, patterning and specification events eventually elicit morphogenetic cell movements such as apical constriction, cell elongation, cell neighbor exchange, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migration. It is the intricate temporal and spatial orchestration of these morphogenetic dynamics that brings about neural tube closure, creates additional layers from the pseudostratified cranial neuroectoderm, and facilitates neural crest delamination and migration. Accidents happening anywhere on that developmental road impair morphogenesis and result in neural and craniofacial malformations.

The main goal of this Research Topic is to bring together contributions that analyze how neural patterning and specification is connected to cranial morphogenesis in health and disease. We welcome studies that provide new insights into tissue patterning and morphogenesis in the healthy organism. We also strongly invite work that sheds light on the connection between morphological phenotypes and their respective genotypes. In this context, work that addresses the pathogenic mechanisms of gene variants leading up to morphogenetic defects is especially welcome, as it helps to better understand the etiology of developmental disorders of the brain, face and skull. We encourage developmental biologists, biophysicists and clinicians to contribute to this research topic with original research, reviews and opinions that address morphogenetic events shaping the neuroectoderm, neural crest and sensory placodes. These could include but are not limited to the following areas:

• Morphogen / growth factor signaling pathway regulation in the patterning and induction of morphogenetic cell movements
• Cell shape changes and tissue rearrangement induced by single or a combination of factors of a gene regulatory network
• Regulation of cytoskeletal arrangement and biomechanics by upstream patterning / specification events
• Regulation of cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions
• Specification and differentiation events in neuroepithelial stem and progenitor cells leading to cell shape and cell behavior changes
• Impact of environmental aspects such as nutrients and toxins that cause brain and craniofacial defects due to cell shape changes and deficits in morphogenesis
• Cell proliferation and migration events leading to the formation of multi-layered brain tissue from neuroectodermal progenitor cells
• Branchial arches’ roles as regulatory centers for craniofacial morphogenesis
• Migration of neuroepithelial progenitors
• Specification, delamination and migration of cranial neural crest cells and their integration into target tissues

A full list of accepted article types, including descriptions, can be found at this link


Keywords: neural patterning, cranial morphogenesis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 June 2021 Abstract
15 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 June 2021 Abstract
15 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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