The ophthalmic trigeminal placode (opV) is the birth place of one cell type of sensory neurons contributing to the trigeminal ganglion. Signals from the neural tube induce placodal identity within the surface ectoderm. Specified opV placode cells then up-regulate neuron differentiation markers and migrate to the ganglion. Several molecular pathways have been shown to act in opV placode cell development. Despite this, signals that specify individual neurons from within the opV placode remain unknown. However, it is known that components of the Notch signaling pathway are expressed in the opV placode. I tested the role of Notch signaling in opV placode development by separately inhibiting and over-activating the pathway. Using DAPT, an inhibitor of gamma-secretase, I inhibited Notch signaling in 13-15 somite stage chick embryo heads. Attenuated Notch signaling caused increased neuronal differentiation of opV cells at 13-15 somites. I also observed an increase in migratory opV placode (Pax3+) cells in the mesenchyme and expression of neuronal marker Islet1 in the ectoderm. Further, I activated Notch signaling by misexpressing the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) by in ovo electroporation of 10-12 somite stage chick embryos. This resulted in Pax3+ targeted cells failing to differentiate and remain instead in the ectoderm. Thus, Notch/Delta signaling plays an important role in selecting ophthalmic trigeminal cells to differentiate and migrate to the trigeminal ganglion.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Physiology and Developmental Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





ophthalmic, trigeminal, placode, Notch, Delta, Pax3, Islet1, DAPT, NICD, neuron, sensory, chick, opV, mmV