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The neural crest is a unique population of migratory multipotential cells that form a variety of different tissues in the developing embryo, including bones and cartilage, connective tissue, nervous tissue, and the enveloping layers of blood vessels. Work in the Melton lab focuses on understanding neural crest cell migration and differentiation during development of the lung and craniofacial region, and understanding the tissues that can signal to the neural crest.
Understanding the neural crest is important clinically because the neural crest forms many of the structures of the head and face, and abnormalities in the neural crest result in craniofacial defects. Neural crest cells are also involved in the formation of hemangiomas, the most common tumor of infancy. Our lab is working to understand how endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and make up hemangiomas, interact with neural crest cells.
Neural crest cells have only recently been described as being present in the developing lung, so their exact function is not known. Our lab is evaluating their role in patterning the developing airway smooth muscle and vasculature, and investigating their function in airway development.
Learn more about the role of neural crest cells during facial development.
Understand how the lab is investigating neural crest roles in hemangioma development.
Learn how the lab is ablating neural crest cells to evaluate their role in early lung development.
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