Using Xenopus Neural Crest Explants to Study Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

Nadège Gouignard, Christian Rouvière, Eric Theveneau
Methods in Molecular Biology 2021, 2179: 257-274
The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) converts coherent epithelial structures into single cells. EMT is a dynamic cellular process that is not systematically completed (not all EMTs lead to single cells) and reversible (cells can re-epithelialize). EMT is orchestrated at multiple levels from transcription, to posttranslational modifications, to protein turnover. It involves remodeling of polarity and adhesion and enhances migratory capabilities. During physiological events such as embryogenesis or wound healing EMT is used to initiate cell migration, but EMT can also occur in pathological settings. In particular, EMT has been linked to fibrosis and cancer. Neural crest (NC) cells, an embryonic stem cell population whose behavior recapitulates the main steps of carcinoma progression, are a great model to study EMT. In this chapter, we provide a fully detailed protocol to extract NC cells from Xenopus embryos and culture them to study the dynamics of cell-cell adhesion, cell motility, and dispersion.

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