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The neural crest is a multipotent population of cells that originates a variety of cell types. Many animal models are used to study neural crest induction, migration and differentiation, with amphibians and birds being the most widely used systems. A major technological advance to study neural crest development in mouse, chick and zebrafish has been the generation of transgenic animals in which neural crest specific enhancers/promoters drive the expression of either fluorescent proteins for use as lineage tracers, or modified genes for use in functional studies. Unfortunately, no such transgenic animals currently exist for the amphibians Xenopus laevis and tropicalis, key model systems for studying neural crest development. Here we describe the generation and characterization of two transgenic Xenopus laevis lines, Pax3-GFP and Sox10-GFP, in which GFP is expressed in the pre-migratory and migratory neural crest, respectively. We show that Pax3-GFP could be a powerful tool to study neural crest induction, whereas Sox10-GFP could be used in the study of neural crest migration in living embryos.

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