Mechanisms of development

Fibronectin and integrin alpha 5 play essential roles in the development of the cardiac neural crest.

PMID 20807571


Cardiac neural crest (CNC) plays a requisite role during cardiovascular development and defects in the formation of CNC-derived structures underlie several common forms of human congenital birth defects. Migration of the CNC cells to their destinations as well as expansion and maintenance of these cells are important for the normal development of the cardiac outflow tract and aortic arch arteries; however, molecular mechanisms regulating these processes are not well-understood. Fibronectin (FN) protein is present along neural crest migration paths and neural crest cells migrate when plated on FN in vitro; therefore, we tested the role of FN during the development of the CNC in vivo. Our analysis of the fate of the neural crest shows that CNC cells reach their destinations in the branchial arches and the cardiac outflow tract in the absence of FN or its cellular receptor integrin α5β1. However, we found that FN and integrin α5 modulate CNC proliferation and survival, and are required for the presence of normal numbers of CNC cells at their destinations.