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neural crest cell maturation vs. specific cell type differentiation

J Clark jclark at
Fri Mar 17 01:48:03 PST 2006

Thanks for this discussion and all the great examples. I'm converting 
the text to documentation to go in the development part of the process 
ontology web page.


Doug howe wrote:

> Good by me...
> David Hill wrote:
>> The maturation term was instantiated for cases where looking at a cell 
>> morphologically it doesn't look like it is doing anything, but it is 
>> in fact synthesizing gene products to make it totally functional. One 
>> example of this (sorry it is not neural crest) is the epithelial cells 
>> of the intestinal crypts. They are born at the bottom of the crypts as 
>> columnar epithelial cells, the process making them conform to this 
>> shape would be their morphogenesis. As they mature, they don't change 
>> shape, but they move up along the villus due to the death of the cells 
>> at the tip and the birth of new cells at the bottom. While they are 
>> moving up, they are synthesizing the gene products that make them 
>> functional absorbative cells. This would be part of their maturation. 
>> Eventually they apoptose. This would also be part of their maturation. 
>> The idea was to capture the processes that were involved in a cell 
>> becoming "an adult" that weren't directly related to the changes in 
>> shape of the cell. Another example would be a neuron that has fully 
>> extended its axons and dendrites and then receives signals about what 
>> kind of receptors and neurotransmitters it is going to make. This 
>> would be maturation because it doesn't have anything to do with 
>> creating the shape of the cell.
>> Does this make sense?
>> David
>> Doug howe wrote:
>>> Well stated David!
>>> The thing that I'm still not clear on then is what the "X cell 
>>> maturation" terms are representing.
>>> X cell maturation would be defined as :
>>> The process leading to the attainment of the full functional capacity 
>>> of an X cell. This process is independent of morphogenetic change.
>>> While X cell development would be defined as:
>>> The process aimed at the progression of a y cell over time, from 
>>> initial commitment of the cell to a specific fate, to the fully 
>>> functional differentiated cell.
>>> Can you clarify the distinction...maybe using neural crest cells as 
>>> an example?  (sounds like a thesis defense question!)
>>> -Doug
>>> David Hill wrote:
>>>> 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.
>>>> David
>>>> 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

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