The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 55: 65 - 72 (2011)

Vol 55, Issue 1

Gene expression profiling identifies eleven DNA repair genes down-regulated during mouse neural crest cell migration

Original Article | Published: 17 February 2011

Domenico Albino1, Antonella Brizzolara2, Stefano Moretti3, Carla Falugi4, Valentina Mirisola5, Paola Scaruffi6, Michele Di Candia5, Mauro Truini7, Simona Coco6, Stefano Bonassi3 and Gian Paolo Tonini*,6

1Laboratory of the Italian Neuroblastoma Foundation, 2Laboratory of Immunological Therapy, National Cancer Research Institute (IST), 3CNRS, Université Paris-Dauphine, LAMSADE, 4Department of Biology, University of Genoa, 5Functional Genomics, National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa, Italy (CNR-IEIIT, Genoa) 6Translational Oncopathology, National Cancer Research Institute (IST) and 7Department of Pathology, National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa, Italy


Neural Crest Cells (NCCs) are transient multipotent migratory cells that derive from the embryonic neural crest which is itself derived from the margin of the neural tube. DNA repair genes are expressed in the early stages of mammalian development to reduce possible replication errors and genotoxic damage. Some birth defects and cancers are due to inappropriate or defective DNA repair machinery, indicating that the proper functioning of DNA repair genes in the early stages of fetal development is essential for maintaining DNA integrity. We performed a genome-wide expression analysis combining laser capture microdissection (LCM) and high-density oligo-microarray of murine NCCs at pre-migratory embryonic days 8.5 (E8.5), and at E13.5, as well as on neural crest-derived cells from the adrenal medulla at postnatal day 90. We found 11 genes involved in DNA repair activity (response to DNA damage stimulus, DNA damage checkpoint, base-excision repair, mismatch repair), over-expressed in the early stages of mouse embryo development. Expression of these 11 genes was very low or undetectable in the differentiated adrenal medulla of the adult mouse. Amongst the 11 genes, 6 had not been previously reported as being over-expressed during mouse embryonic development. High expression of DNA repair genes in enriched NCCs during early embryonic development may contribute to maintaining DNA integrity whilst failure of some of these genes may be associated with the onset of genetic disease and cancer. Our model of enriched murine NCCs and neural crest-derived cells can be used to elucidate the key roles of genes during normal embryonic development and in cancer pathogenesis.


neural crest cell, mouse development, Laser Capture Microdissection, microarray, neuroblastoma

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