A transition from SoxB1 to SoxE transcription factors is essential for progression from pluripotent blastula cells to neural crest cells

Elsy Buitrago-Delgado, Elizabeth N. Schock, Kara Nordin, Carole LaBonne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The neural crest is a stem cell population unique to vertebrate embryos that gives rise to derivatives from multiple embryonic germ layers. The molecular underpinnings of potency that govern neural crest potential are highly conserved with that of pluripotent blastula stem cells, suggesting that neural crest cells may have evolved through retention of aspects of the pluripotency gene regulatory network (GRN). A striking difference in the regulatory factors utilized in pluripotent blastula cells and neural crest cells is the deployment of different sub-families of Sox transcription factors; SoxB1 factors play central roles in the pluripotency of naïve blastula and ES cells, whereas neural crest cells require SoxE function. Here we explore the shared and distinct activities of these factors to shed light on the role that this molecular hand-off of Sox factor activity plays in the genesis of neural crest and the lineages derived from it. Our findings provide evidence that SoxB1 and SoxE factors have both overlapping and distinct activities in regulating pluripotency and lineage restriction in the embryo. We hypothesize that SoxE factors may transiently replace SoxB1 factors to control pluripotency in neural crest cells, and then poise these cells to contribute to glial, chondrogenic and melanocyte lineages at stages when SoxB1 factors promote neuronal progenitor formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018



  • Neural crest
  • Neural plate border
  • Pluripotency
  • SoxB1
  • SoxE
  • Stem cell
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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