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Development. 2002 Jun;129(11):2675-87.

The roles of cell migration and myofiber intercalation in patterning formation of the postmitotic myotome.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, PO Box 12272, Israel.


We have previously found that the postmitotic myotome is formed by two successive waves of myoblasts. A first wave of pioneer cells is generated from the dorsomedial region of epithelial somites. A second wave originates from all four edges of the dermomyotome but cells enter the myotome only from the rostral and caudal lips. We provide new evidence for the existence of these distinctive waves. We show for the first time that when the somite dissociates, pioneer myotomal progenitors migrate as mesenchymal cells from the medial side towards the rostral edge of the segment. Subsequently, they generate myofibers that elongate caudally. Pioneer myofiber differentiation then progresses in a medial-to-lateral direction with fibers reaching the lateralmost region of each segment. At later stages, pioneers participate in the formation of multinucleated fibers during secondary myogenesis by fusing with younger cells. We also demonstrate that subsequent to primary myotome formation by pioneers, growth occurs by uniform cell addition along the dorsoventral myotome. At this stage, the contributing cells arise from multiple sources as the myotome keeps growing even in the absence of the dorsomedial lip. Moreover, as opposed to suggestions that myotome growth is driven primarily and directly by the medial and lateral edges, we demonstrate that there is no direct fiber generation from the dorsomedial lip. Instead, we find that added fibers elongate from the extreme edges. Altogether, the integration between both myogenic waves results in an even pattern of dorsoventral growth of the myotome which is accounted for by progressive cell intercalation of second wave cells between preexisting pioneer fibers.

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