Neural crest stem cell maintenance by combinatorial Wnt and BMP signaling

Maurice Kléber, Hye-Youn Lee, Heiko Wurdak, Johanna Buchstaller, Martin M. Riccomagno, Lars M. Ittner, Ueli Suter, Douglas J. Epstein, Lukas Sommer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Canonical Wnt signaling instructively promotes sensory neurogenesis in early neural crest stem cells (eNCSCs) (Lee, H.Y., M. Kléber, L. Hari, V. Brault, U. Suter, M.M. Taketo, R. Kemler, and L. Sommer. 2004. Science. 303:1020-1023). However, during normal development Wnt signaling induces a sensory fate only in a subpopulation of eNCSCs while other cells maintain their stem cell features, despite the presence of Wnt activity. Hence, factors counteracting Wnt signaling must exist. Here, we show that bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling antagonizes the sensory fate-inducing activity of Wnt/β-catenin. Intriguingly, Wnt and BMP act synergistically to suppress differentiation and to maintain NCSC marker expression and multipotency. Similar to NCSCs in vivo, NCSCs maintained in culture alter their responsiveness to instructive growth factors with time. Thus, stem cell development is regulated by combinatorial growth factor activities that interact with changing cell-intrinsic cues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-320
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


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