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Development. 2002 Oct;129(20):4763-72.

Differential regulation of the chick dorsal thoracic dermal progenitors from the medial dermomyotome.

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  • 1Equipe Biologie de la Différenciation Epithéliale, UMR CNRS 5538, LEDAC, Institut Albert Bonniot, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


The chick dorsal feather-forming dermis originates from the dorsomedial somite and its formation depends primarily on Wnt1 from the dorsal neural tube. We investigate further the origin and specification of dermal progenitors from the medial dermomyotome. This comprises two distinct domains: the dorsomedial lip and a more central region (or intervening zone) that derives from it. We confirm that Wnt1 induces Wnt11 expression in the dorsomedial lip as previously shown, and show using DiI injections that some of these cells, which continue to express Wnt11 migrate under the ectoderm, towards the midline, to form most of the dorsal dermis. Transplantation of left somites to the right side to reverse the mediolateral axis confirms this finding and moreover suggests the presence of an attractive or permissive environment produced by the midline tissues or/and a repellent or inadequate environment by the lateral tissues. By contrast, the dorsolateral dermal cells just delaminate from the surface of the intervening space, which expresses En1. Excision of the axial organs or the ectoderm, and grafting of Wnt1-secreting cells, shows that, although the two populations of dermal progenitors both requires Wnt1 for their survival, the signalling required for their specification differs. Indeed Wnt11 expression relies on dorsal neural tube-derived Wnt1, while En1 expression depends on the presence of the ectoderm. The dorsal feather-forming dermal progenitors thus appear to be differentially regulated by dorsal signals from the neural tube and the ectoderm, and derive directly and indirectly from the dorsomedial lip. As these two dermomyotomal populations are well known to also give rise to epaxial muscles, an isolated domain of the dermomyotome that contains only dermal precursors does not exist and none of the dermomyotomal domains can be considered uniquely as a dermatome.

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