The boundary cap (BC) is a transient neural crest-derived group of cells located at the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) that have been shown to differentiate into sensory neurons and glia in vivo. We find that when placed in culture, BC cells self-renew, show multipotency in clonal cultures and express neural crest stem cell (NCSCs) markers. Unlike sciatic nerve NCSCs, the BC-NCSC (bNCSCs) generates sensory neurons upon differentiation. The bNCSCs constitute a common source of cells for functionally diverse types of neurons, as a single bNCSC can give rise to several types of nociceptive and thermoreceptive sensory neurons. Our data suggests that BC cells comprise a source of multipotent sensory specified stem cells that persist throughout embryogenesis.
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