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Neural tube-associated boundary caps are a major source of mural cells in the skin

Gerschenfeld G, Coulpier F, Gresset A, Pulh P, Job B, Topilko T, Siegenthaler J, Kastriti ME, Brunet I, Charnay P, Topilko P.


In addition to their roles in protecting nerves and increasing conduction velocity, peripheral glia plays key functions in blood vessel development by secreting molecules governing arteries alignment and maturation with nerves. Here, we show in mice that a specific, nerve-attached cell population, derived from boundary caps (BCs), constitutes a major source of mural cells for the developing skin vasculature. Using Cre-based reporter cell tracing and single-cell transcriptomics, we show that BC derivatives migrate into the skin along the nerves, detach from them, and differentiate into pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. Genetic ablation of this population affects the organization of the skin vascular network. Our results reveal the heterogeneity and extended potential of the BC population in mice, which gives rise to mural cells, in addition to previously described neurons, Schwann cells, and melanocytes. Finally, our results suggest that mural specification of BC derivatives takes place before their migration along nerves to the mouse skin.

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Elife. 2023 Dec 14:12:e69413. doi : 10.7554/eLife.69413