Transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of neural crest induction during neurulation

Mayanil, C. S.

Dev Neurosci. 2013 Sep 21; 35(5):361-72

Abstract

Neurulation is one of the many important events in mammalian development. It is the stage of organogenesis in vertebrate embryos during which the neural tube is transformed into the primitive structures that will later develop into the central nervous system. Recent transcriptome analysis during neurulation and early organogenesis in humans and mice has identified the global dynamics of gene expression changes across developmental time. This has revealed a richer understanding of gene regulation and provides hints at the transcriptional regulatory networks that underlie these processes. Similarly, epigenome analysis, which collectively constitutes histone modifications, transcription factor binding, and other structural features associated with gene regulation, has given a renewed appreciation to the subtle mechanisms involving the process of neurulation. More specifically, the histone demethylases KDM4A and KDM6B have recently been shown to be key histone H3K4 and H3K27 modifiers that regulate neural crest specification and neural tube closure. Additionally, miRNAs have recently been shown to influence transcription of genes directly or by altering the levels of epigenetic modifiers and thus regulate gene expression. This mini review briefly summarizes the literature, highlighting the transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of key genes involved in neural crest induction and neural crest specification by transcription factors and miRNAs. Understanding how these mechanisms work individually and in clusters will shed light on pathways in the context of diseases associated with neural crest cell derivatives such as melanoma, cardiovascular defects and neuronal craniofacial defects.

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