Trunk neural crest origin of dermal denticles in a cartilaginous fish.

26 Jan 2018

Cartilaginous fishes (e.g., sharks and skates) possess a postcranial dermal skeleton consisting of tooth-like "denticles" embedded within their skin. As with teeth, the principal skeletal tissue of dermal denticles is dentine. In the head, cranial neural crest cells give rise to the dentine-producing cells (odontoblasts) of teeth. However, trunk neural crest cells are generally regarded as nonskeletogenic, and so the embryonic origin of trunk denticle odontoblasts remains unresolved. Here, we use expression of FoxD3 to pinpoint the specification and emigration of trunk neural crest cells in embryos of a cartilaginous fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Using cell lineage tracing, we further demonstrate that trunk neural crest cells do, in fact, give rise to odontoblasts of trunk dermal denticles. These findings expand the repertoire of vertebrate trunk neural crest cell fates during normal development, highlight the likely primitive skeletogenic potential of this cell population, and point to a neural crest origin of dentine throughout the ancestral vertebrate dermal skeleton.