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Faculty Information

Jean-Pierre N. Saint-Jeannet, Ph.D.
Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology
Room 1005 Schwartz Hall, 345 East 24Th Street



1984, B.S., Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.

1986, M.S., Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.

1990, Ph.D., Developmental Neurobiology. Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.


Research Interests / Professional Overview:

The neural crest (NC) is a multipotent population of migratory cells unique to the vertebrate embryo. The NC is initially induced at the neural plate border. As the neural plate closes NC cells delaminate from the neuroepithelium and migrate throughout the embryo to give rise to a wide variety of cell types, including peripheral neurons and glia, craniofacial skeletal elements, pigment cells and portions of the cardiovascular system. Because of its contribution to multiple lineages, abnormal development of the NC can result in a wide array of clinical manifestations affecting multiple organ systems. Therefore, studies focusing on the molecular mechanisms regulating the emergence of the NC are critical to further our understanding of a broad range of human congenital malformations. Our laboratory is studying the regulatory inputs controlling NC development, using the frog Xenopus laevis as a model system. Using a combination of biochemical, molecular and embryological approaches our goals are: (i) to define the relative importance of Wnt and Fgf signaling pathways in NC induction; (ii) to identify the downstream targets of Pax3 and Zic1, two transcription factors activated early at the neural plate border and critically required for NC specification; and (iii) to characterize the unique functions of SoxE proteins in driving NC cells diversification. We are also actively studying the factors regulating the formation of the cranial placodes, a group of cells also arising from the neural plate border and contributing to the paired sense organs (nose, ear and lens) and to the cephalic peripheral nervous system (cranial ganglia).


Lab Members:

Chang-Joon Bae -  Postdoctoral Associate -

Arun Devotta -  Junior Research Scientist -

Chang-Soo Hong -  Visiting Scholar -

Maria Belen Jaurena - Postdoctoral Associate -

Hugo Juraver-Geslin - Postdoctoral Associate -


Lab Website:


Current Funding:

National Institutes of Health -NIDCR- RO1-DE014212

"Control of neural crest development in Xenopus"


Pub Med Articles:



Representative Publications:

Huang X. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2004). Induction of the neural crest and the opportunities of life on the edge. Dev. Biol. 275, 1-11.

Huang X., Hong C-S., O'Donnell M. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2005). The doublesex-related gene, XDmrt4, is required for neurogenesis in the olfactory system. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 102, 11349-11354. 

 O'Donnell, M., Hong C-S., Huang X., Delnicki, R. J. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2006). Functional analysis of Sox8 during neural crest development in Xenopus. Development, 133, 3817-3826.

Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2007). The activity of Pax3 and Zic1 regulates three distinct cell fates at the neural plate border. Mol. Biol. Cell. 18, 2192-2202.

Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2008). Hindbrain-derived Wnt and Fgf signals cooperate to specify the otic placode in Xenopus. Dev. Biol. 324, 108-121.

Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2010). Induction and segregation of the vertebrate cranial placodes. Colloquium Series on Developmental Biology, Vol. 1, No. 3. Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Lee Y-H. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2011). Cardiac neural crest is dispensable for outflow tract septation in Xenopus. Development 138, 2025-2034.

Lee Y-H. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2011). Sox9 function in craniofacial development and disease. Genesis 49, 200-208.

Chin A. J., Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Lo C. W. (2012). How insights from cardiovascular developmental biology have impacted the care of infants and children with congenital heart disease. Mech. Dev. 129, 75-97. 

Lee Y-H., Williams A., Hong, C-S., Senoo, M. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2013). Early development of the thymus in Xenopus laevis. Dev. Dyn. 242, 164-178.

Bae C-J. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Induction and Specification of Neural Crest Cells: Extracellular Signals and Transcriptional Switches. In Neural Crest Cells: Evolution, Development and Disease”, pp 27-49 (Ed. P. Trainor). Academic Press. 

Bae C-J., Park B-Y., Lee Y-H., Tobias J. W., Hong C-S., and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Identification of targets of Pax3 and Zic1 in the developing neural crest. Dev. Biol. 386, 473-483.

Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Moody S. A. (2014). Establishing the pre-placodal region and breaking it into placodes with distinct identities. Dev. Biol. In press.

Hong C-S., Devotta, A., Lee Y-H., Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Transcription factor AP2 epsilon (Tfap2e) regulates neural crest specification in Xenopus. Dev. Neurobiol. In press.