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neural crest cell maturation vs. specific cell type differentiation

David Hill dph at
Thu Mar 16 12:20:22 PST 2006

In general derivatives are considered as separate cell types. So, when a 
neural crest cell migrates to where it is going and it is receiving 
signals about what it is going to become, it is being committed to 
become another cell type. This process, as GO defines it, is part of the 
differentiation of that other cell type, not part of the maturation of 
the neural crest cell. Although the line between when one cell begins 
and another ends is fuzzy, if we start to try to represent cell lineages 
in the process ontology, we run into huge issues. The most obvious ones 
are things like "Is the differentiation of a pigment cell part of the 
development of a neural crest cell because it happens to the neural 
crest cell,  or is the development of a neural crest cell part of the 
differentiation of a pigment cell because it needs to happen for the 
pigment cell to differentiate. For this reason, we keep the lineage 
relationships out of the ontology. The lineage relationships are 
captured in the cell type ontology. At some point, we can use the two 
ontologies to derive both the processes and the lineages. So, for 
example, if a pigement cell develops only from a neural crest cell in 
the cell ontology, then we can define the process of pigment cell fate 
commitment as the process by which a neural crest cell becomes committed 
to form a pigment cell.


Melissa Haendel wrote:

> Hi, I wanted to send this set of questions separately than my previous 
> email as I think they will require discussion.
> I need a term that represents the final stages of neural crest cell 
> differentiation into their derivatives.  I could annotate to pigment 
> cell differentiation, etc, but it would be better to say that all 
> derivatives don't begin their differentiation.  Once neural crest 
> cells begin to differentiate into their derivatives, they are no 
> longer called neural crest cells.  So, would the term "neural crest 
> cell maturation' with the following definition work?  "The process 
> leading to the attainment of the full functional capacity of a neural 
> crest cell derivative. This process is independent of morphogenetic 
> change."  I have added the word derivative, but I don't know if this 
> will fly.  Thought I would email the listserve for advice before 
> making a request.
> How have any of you dealt with differentiation into derivative cell 
> types with different names in the past?
> Any advice is much appreciated.
> Thanks, Melissa Haendel

David P. Hill, Ph.D.
Senior Scientific Curator
Mouse Genome Informatics
Gene Ontology Consortium
The Jackson Laboratory
600 Main Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609-1500

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