Morpholinos for splice modificatio

Morpholinos for splice modification



Pax3 encodes a transcription factor expressed during mid-gestation in the region of the dorsal neural tube that gives rise to migrating neural crest populations. In the absence of Pax3, both humans and mice develop with neural crest defects. Homozygous Splotch embryos that lack Pax3 die by embryonic day 13.5 with cardiac defects that resemble those induced by neural crest ablation in chick models. This has led to the hypothesis that Pax3 is required for cardiac neural crest migration. However, cardiac derivatives of Pax3-expressing precursor cells have not been previously defined, and Pax3-expressing cells within the heart have not been well demonstrated. Hence, the precise role of Pax3 during cardiac development remains unclear. Here, we use a Cre-lox method to fate map Pax3-expressing neural crest precursors to the cardiac outflow tract. We show that although Pax3 itself is extinguished prior to neural crest populating the heart, derivatives of these precursors contribute to the aorticopulmonary septum. We further show that neural crest cells are found in the outflow tract of Splotch embryos, albeit in reduced numbers. This indicates that contrary to prior reports, Pax3 is not required for cardiac neural crest migration. Using a neural tube explant culture assay, we demonstrate that neural crest cells from Splotch embryos show normal rates of proliferation but altered migratory characteristics. These studies suggest that Pax3 is required for fine tuning the migratory behavior of the cardiac neural crest cells while it is not essential for neural crest migration.