Neural crest cells migrate throughout the embryo, but how cells move in a directed and collective manner has remained unclear. Here, we perform the first single-cell transcriptome analysis of cranial neural crest cell migration at three progressive stages in chick and identify and establish hierarchical relationships between cell position and time-specific transcriptional signatures. We determine a novel transcriptional signature of the most invasive neural crest Trailblazer cells that is consistent during migration and enriched for approximately 900 genes. Knockdown of several Trailblazer genes shows significant but modest changes to total distance migrated. However, in vivo expression analysis by RNAscope and immunohistochemistry reveals some salt and pepper patterns that include strong individual Trailblazer gene expression in cells within other subregions of the migratory stream. These data provide new insights into the molecular diversity and dynamics within a neural crest cell migratory stream that underlie complex directed and collective cell behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)