The neural crest cell cycle is related to phases of migration in the head

Dennis A. Ridenour, Rebecca Mclennan, Jessica M. Teddy, Craig L. Semerad, Jeffrey S. Haug, Paul M. Kulesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Embryonic cells that migrate long distances must critically balance cell division in order to maintain stream dynamics and population of peripheral targets. Yet details of individual cell division events and how cell cycle is related to phases of migration remain unclear. Here, we examined these questions using the chick cranial neural crest (NC). In vivo time-lapse imaging revealed that a typical migrating NC cell division event lasted ~1 hour and included four stereotypical steps. Cell tracking showed that dividing NC cells maintained position relative to non-dividing neighbors. NC cell division orientation and the time and distance to first division after neural tube exit were stochastic. To address how cell cycle is related to phases of migration, we used FACs analysis to identify significant spatiotemporal differences in NC cell cycle profiles. Two-photon photoconversion of single and small numbers of mKikGR-labeled NC cells confirmed that lead NC cells exhibited a nearly fourfold faster doubling time after populating the branchial arches. By contrast, Ki-67 staining showed that one out of every five later emerging NC cells exited the cell cycle after reaching proximal head targets. The relatively quiescent mitotic activity during NC cell migration to the branchial arches was altered when premigratory cells were reduced in number by tissue ablation. Together, our results provide the first comprehensive details of the pattern and dynamics of cell division events during cranial NC cell migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1103
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Cell cycle
  • Cell division
  • Chick
  • Migration
  • Neural crest
  • Time lapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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    Ridenour, D. A., Mclennan, R., Teddy, J. M., Semerad, C. L., Haug, J. S., & Kulesa, P. M. (2014). The neural crest cell cycle is related to phases of migration in the head. Development (Cambridge), 141(5), 1095-1103.