Research Topic

Neural Crest Stem Cells: from Development to Cancer

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The neural crest cells (NCC) constitute an ephemeral population accurately migrating and invading with precision defined sites of the embryo. During migration, NCC are guided along distinct migratory pathways by specialized molecules present in the extracellular matrix or on the surfaces of those cells. Two ...

The neural crest cells (NCC) constitute an ephemeral population accurately migrating and invading with precision defined sites of the embryo. During migration, NCC are guided along distinct migratory pathways by specialized molecules present in the extracellular matrix or on the surfaces of those cells. Two main processes will direct NCC migration: 1) an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which includes the loss of tight and adherent junctions, modifications of the apical-basal cell polarity and rearrangements of the cytoskeleton; 2) a process known as contact inhibition of locomotion (CIL) which leads to regular cell arrangements and hinders the formation of cohesive tissues.
When they reached their final destination, those cells start to differentiate and participate to the organization of the future organ or tissue. Indeed, a multitude of neural and non-neural mature cell types originate from the neural crest including the peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons and glia, the melanocytes, some neuro-endocrine cells, diverse mesenchymal cell types like craniofacial bones, cartilages, tendons, connective cells, adipose tissue, etc.

Noteworthy, a small pool of NCC will remain quiescent and undifferentiated within those tissues or organs throughout life. The presence of those multipotent post-migratory NCC, in various adult tissues, opens exciting new avenues for research in translational medicine. However, their physiological roles in normal and pathological conditions should also be address to further understand their nature and functions. Likewise, NCC are implicated in several cancers like melanoma, neuroblastoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia.

In this Research Topic, we would like assemble a series of reviews or original research articles to provide the most accurate and up-to-date knowledge regarding NCC from the development through adulthood, in normal and pathological conditions. We are therefore encouraging authors to submit their results or thought regarding:

- The fine molecular mechanism underlying NCC migration during the development and how those informations could relate to cancer condition
- The function of NCC in normal adult tissues and their potential link in cancer development.
- The molecular mechanism underlying neural-crest-derived cancer development


Keywords: Neural crest stem cells, migration, invasion, tumor, function


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