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Neural crest cells are crucial in development, not least because of their remarkable multipotency. Early findings stimulated two hypotheses for how fate specification and commitment from fully multipotent neural crest cells might occur, progressive fate restriction (PFR) and direct fate restriction, differing in whether partially restricted intermediates were involved. Initially hotly debated, they remain unreconciled, although PFR has become favoured. However, testing of a PFR hypothesis of zebrafish pigment cell development refutes this view. We propose a novel ‘cyclical fate restriction’ hypothesis, based upon a more dynamic view of transcriptional states, reconciling the experimental evidence underpinning the traditional hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev176057
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number22
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021


  • Fate specification
  • Melanocyte
  • Neural crest cell
  • Pigment cell
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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