Maintaining multipotent trunk neural crest stem cells as self-renewing crestospheres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Neural crest cells have broad migratory and differentiative ability that differs according to their axial level of origin. However, their transient nature has limited understanding of their stem cell and self-renewal properties. While an in vitro culture method has made it possible to maintain cranial neural crest cells as self-renewing multipotent crestospheres (Kerosuo et al., 2015), these same conditions failed to preserve trunk neural crest in a stem-like state. Here we optimize culture conditions for maintenance of avian trunk crestospheres, comprised of both neural crest stem and progenitor cells. Our trunk-derived crestospheres are multipotent and display self-renewal capacity over several weeks. Trunk crestospheres display elevated expression of neural crest cell markers as compared to those characteristic of ventrolateral neural tube or mesodermal fates. Moreover, trunk crestospheres express increased levels of trunk neural crest-enriched markers as compared to cranial crestospheres. Finally, we use lentiviral transduction as a tool to manipulate gene expression in trunk crestospheres. Taken together, this method enables long-term in vitro maintenance and manipulation of multipotent trunk neural crest cells in a premigratory stem or early progenitor state. Trunk crestospheres are a valuable resource for probing mechanisms underlying neural crest stemness and lineage decisions as well as accompanying diseases.


  • Sofie Mohlin
  • Ezgi Kunttas
  • Camilla U. Persson
  • Reem Abdel-Haq
  • Aldo Castillo
  • Christina Murko
  • Marianne E. Bronner
  • Laura Kerosuo
External organisations
  • California Institute of Technology
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
  • University of Helsinki
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Crestospheres, Multipotency, self-renewal, Neural crest stem cells, Stem cell maintenance, Trunk neural crest
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Early online date2019 Jan 18
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch