NEURAL CREST INDUCTION
TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR AP-2
Cranial placodes (which include the adenohypophyseal, olfactory, lens, otic, lateral line, profundal/trigeminal, and epibranchial placodes) give rise to many sense organs and ganglia of the vertebrate head. Recent evidence suggests that all cranial placodes may be developmentally related structures, which originate from a common panplacodal primordium at neural plate stages and use similar regulatory mechanisms to control developmental processes shared between different placodes such as neurogenesis and morphogenetic movements. After providing a brief overview of placodal diversity, the present review summarizes current evidence for the existence of a panplacodal primordium and discusses the central role of transcription factors Six1 and Eyal in the regulation of processes shared between different placodes. Upstream signaling events and transcription factors involved in early embryonic induction and specification of the panplacodal primordium are discussed next. I then review how individual placodes arise from the panplacodal primordium and present a model of multistep placode induction. Finally, I briefly summarize recent advances concerning how placodal neurons and sensory cells are specified, and how morphogenesis of placodes (including delamination and migration of placodederived cells and invagination) is controlled.