Faculty Information

Jean-Pierre N. Saint-Jeannet, PhD

Professor & Vice Chair for Research
Molecular Pathobiology
Room 1005 Schwartz Hall, 345 East 24th Street
E-mail: jsj4@nyu.edu

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PhD, Developmental Neurobiology, Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France 1990
MS, Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France 1986
BS, Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France 1984

Research Interests / Professional Overview

We study the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cell fate decisions at the neural plate border. In the vertebrate embryo, the neural plate border defines a competence domain established between neural (prospective central nervous system) and non-neural (future epidermis) ectoderm. Within this domain signaling events progressively direct the emergence of two cell populations, the neural crest and cranial placodes. In the head region the neural crest contributes to cartilages and bones of the face, the middle ear ossicles and several cranial ganglia. The cranial placodes form the paired sensory organs (olfactory epithelium, inner ear and lens), the adenohypophysis, and a subset of cranial ganglia including the trigeminal ganglion, which provides sensory innervation to the orofacial complex. Using Xenopus laevis as a model system, our goal is to identify the gene regulatory network driving neural crest and placode fates. Because neural crest and placode progenitors make a major contribution to the head structures and sensory organs, defining how these processes are regulated is essential to gain insights into the etiology and pathogenesis of congenital disorders affecting craniofacial development. The transcription Zic1 is expressed at the anterior neural plate, and we have recently shown that Zic1 controls cranial placode progenitors formation non-cell autonomously by regulating retinoic acid production and transport. We are now investigating how the balance between retinoic acid production and degradation contributes to the delineation of sharp boundaries of genes expression anteriorly, and characterizing the signaling molecules cooperating with retinoic acid to impart placode fate. Another line of research explores the role of components of the spliceosome in neural crest and craniofacial development. Several human craniofacial disorders have been linked to mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in pre-mRNA processing. We have developed the first animal model for Nager syndrome a craniofacial syndrome that has been linked to mutations in SF3B4 (splicing factor 3b, subunit 4) gene, which encodes a component of the spliceosomal complex. We have shown that in embryos lacking Sf3b4 function neural crest progenitors formation is compromised through a mechanism that involves increased apoptosis, resulting in hypo-plastic craniofacial skeletal structures. We are investigating the mechanisms by which Sf3b4 mediates its activity during neural crest formation by analyzing the global impact of Sf3b4 knockdown on pre-mRNA processing using RNA-Seq.

Lab Members

Lab Website

Current Funding

National Institutes of Health -NIDCR- R01-DE025806 - (PI)
"Molecular control of cranial placode progenitor formation"
Period: 12/15-11/20

National Institutes of Health -NIDCR- R01-DE025468 - (PI)
"Pathogenesis of craniofacial defects in Nager syndrome"
Period: 7/16-2/21

National Institutes of Health -NIDCR- F32-DE027599 - Aditi Dubey, PI - (Sponsor)
"Local modulation of retinoic acid signaling in cranial placode formation"
Period: 6/18-5/21

Representative Publications

Complete listing available on the NYU Health Sciences Library site.

Search PubMed for articles.


Devotta A., Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2018). Dkk2 promotes neural crest specification by activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling in a GSK3β independent manner. eLife 2018;7:e34404.

Creuzet S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2018). Preface: Celebrating 150 years of neural crest research. Genesis. 2018;56:e23236.

Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P.(2018). The b-HLH transcription factor Hes3 participates in neural plate border formation by interfering with Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Dev. Biol. 442, 162-172.

Nurbaeva M., Eckstein M., Devotta A., Saint-Jeannet J-P., Yule D., Hubbard M. J. and Lacruz R. S. (2018). Evidence that calcium entry into calcium-transporting dental enamel cells is regulated by cholecystokinin, acetylcholine and ATP. Front. Physiol. 9:801. doi: 10.3389/fphys. 2018.00801.

Alkobtawi M., Ray H., Barriga E. H., Moreno M., Kerney R., Monsoro-Burq A-H., Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Mayor R. (2018). Characterization of Pax3 and Sox10 transgenic Xenopus laevis embryos as tools to study neural crest development. Dev. Biol., [Epub ahead of print]

Ossipova O., Kerney R., Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Sokol SY. (2018). Regulation of neural crest development by the formin family protein Daam1. Genesis, 2018;e23108.

Bae C-J., Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2018). Anosmin-1 is essential for neural crest and cranial placodes formation in Xenopus. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 495, 2257-2263.

Dubey A., Rose R., Jones D. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2018). Generating retinoic acid gradients by local degradation during craniofacial development: one cell’s cue is another cell’s poison. Genesis, 2018;e23091.


Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2017). Znf703, a target of Pax3 and Zic1, regulates neural crest development and hindbrain patterning in Xenopus. Genesis. 2017;e23082.

Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2017). Whole-mount in situ hybridization of Xenopus embryos. Cold Spring Harb Protoc; doi:10.1101/pdb.prot0972876.

Dubey A. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2017). Modeling human craniofacial disorders in Xenopus. Curr. Pathobiol. Rep. 5, 79-92. doi: 10.1007/s40139-017-0128-8.


Devotta A., Juraver-Geslin H., Gonzalez, J. A., Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2016). Sf3b4-depleted Xenopus embryos: a model to study the pathogenesis of craniofacial defects in Nager syndrome. Dev. Biol. 415, 371-382.


Jaurena M. B., Juraver-Geslin H., Devotta A. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2015). Zic1 controls placode progenitor formation non-cell autonomously by regulating retinoic acid production and transport. Nat. Commun. 6, 7476 doi: 10.1038/ncomms8476.

Bae C-J., Jeong J. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2015). A novel function for Egr4 in posterior hindbrain development. Sci. Rep. 5, 7750 doi:10.1038/srep07750.

Moody S. A. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2015). Development of the pre-placodal ectoderm and cranial sensory placodes. In "Principles of Developmental Genetics", pp 331-356 (Ed. S. A. Moody). Academic Press.


Jeong Y-H, Park B. K. Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Lee Y-H. (2014). Developmental expression of Pitx2c in Xenopus trigeminal and profundal placodes. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58, 701-704.

Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Xhe2 is a member of the astacin family of metalloproteases that promotes Xenopus hatching. Genesis 52, 946-951.

Hong C-S., Devotta A., Lee Y-H., Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Transcription factor AP2 epsilon (Tfap2e) regulates neural crest specification in Xenopus. Dev. Neurobiol. 74, 894-906.

Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Moody S. A. (2014). Establishing the pre-placodal region and breaking it into placodes with distinct identities. Dev. Biol. 389, 13-27.

Bae C-J. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Induction and specification of neural crest cells: extracellular signals and transcriptional switches. In "Neural Crest Cells: Evolution, Development and Disease", pp 27-49 (Ed. P. Trainor). Academic Press.

Bae C-J., Park B-Y., Lee Y-H., Tobias J. W., Hong C-S. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2014). Identification of targets of Pax3 and Zic1 in the developing neural crest. Dev. Biol. 386, 473-483.


Lee Y-H., Williams A., Hong C-S., You Y., Senoo M. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2013). Early development of the thymus in Xenopus laevis. Dev. Dyn. 242, 164-178.


Park B-Y., Hong C-S., Weaver J., Rosocha E. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2012). Xaml1/Runx1 is required for the specification of Rohon-Beard sensory neurons in Xenopus. Dev. Biol. 362, 65-75.

Chin A. J., Saint-Jeannet J-P. and Lo C. W. (2012). How insights from cardiovascular developmental biology have impacted the care of infants and children with congenital heart disease. Mech. Dev., 129, 75-97.


Lee Y-H. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2011). Cardiac neural crest is dispensable for outflow tract septation in Xenopus. Development 138, 2025-2034.

Lee Y-H. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2011). Sox9 function in craniofacial development and disease. Genesis 49, 200-208.


Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2010). Long-term consequences of Sox9 depletion on inner ear development. Dev. Dyn. 239, 1102-1112.

Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2010). Expression analysis of Runx3 and other Runx family members during Xenopus development. Gene Exp. Patterns 19, 157-166.

Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2010). Induction and segregation of the vertebrate cranial placodes. Colloquium Series on Developmental Biology, Vol. 1, No. 3. Morgan & Claypool Publishers.


Park B-Y., Hong C-S., Sohail F. A. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2009). Developmental expression and regulation of the chemokine CXCL14 in Xenopus. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 53, 535-540.

Lee Y-H. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2009). Characterization of molecular markers to assess cardiac cushions formation in Xenopus. Dev. Dyn. 238, 3257-3265.


Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2008). Hindbrain-derived Wnt and Fgf signals cooperate to specify the otic placode in Xenopus. Dev. Biol. 324, 108-121.

Hong C-S., Park B-Y. and Saint-Jeannet J-P. (2008). Fgf8a induces neural crest indirectly through the activation of Wnt8 in the paraxial mesoderm. Development 135, 3903-3910.