The alpha4 subunit of integrin is important for neural crest cell migration

TitleThe alpha4 subunit of integrin is important for neural crest cell migration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsKil SH, Krull CE, Cann G, Clegg D, Bronner-Fraser M
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Date Published1998 Oct 1
KeywordsAmino Acid Sequence, Animals, Antigens, CD, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Cell Movement, Chick Embryo, Cloning, Molecular, Culture Techniques, Fibronectins, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Integrin alpha4, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Muscles, Neural Crest, Peptide Fragments, Rhombencephalon, RNA, Messenger, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid

We identify the alpha4 subunit of integrin as a predominant integrin expressed by neural crest cells in both avian and murine embryos. Using degenerate primers, we obtained a PCR fragment of the chick integrin alpha4 subunit that was subsequently used to clone the full-length subunit with a predicted amino acid sequence 60% identical to human and mouse alpha4 subunits. In situ hybridization demonstrates that chick integrin alpha4 mRNA is expressed at high levels by migrating neural crest cells and neural crest-derived ganglia at both cranial and trunk levels. An antibody against the murine alpha4 subunit revealed similar distribution patterns in mouse to chick. In addition to neural crest cells, the integrin alpha4 subunit was later observed on the muscle masses of the limb, the apical ectodermal ridge, and the developing liver. To examine the functional role of the integrin alpha4 subunit in neural crest cell migration, we used an explant preparation that allows visualization of neural crest cells in their normal environment with or without perturbing reagents. In the presence of a blocking antibody against the mouse integrin alpha4 subunit, there was a profound abrogation of neural crest cell migration at trunk and hindbrain levels. Both the numbers of migrating neural crest cells and the total distance traversed were markedly reduced. Similarly, avian embryos injected with synthetic peptides that contain the integrin alpha4 binding site in fibronectin displayed abnormal neural crest cell migration. Our results suggest that the integrin alpha4 subunit is important for normal neural crest cell migration and may be one of the primary alpha subunits used for neural crest cell migration in vivo. Furthermore, the integrin alpha4 subunit represents a useful neural crest marker in the mouse.

Alternate JournalDev. Biol.
PubMed ID9758701
Grant ListHD15527 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States