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Dev Cell. 2003 Dec;5(6):865-76.

Cadherin-mediated differential cell adhesion controls slow muscle cell migration in the developing zebrafish myotome.

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  • 1Comparative and Developmental Genetics Section, MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, Scotland, UK.


Slow-twitch muscle fibers of the zebrafish myotome undergo a unique set of morphogenetic cell movements. During embryogenesis, slow-twitch muscle derives from the adaxial cells, a layer of paraxial mesoderm that differentiates medially within the myotome, immediately adjacent to the notochord. Subsequently, slow-twitch muscle cells migrate through the entire myotome, coming to lie at its most lateral surface. Here we examine the cellular and molecular basis for slow-twitch muscle cell migration. We show that slow-twitch muscle cell morphogenesis is marked by behaviors typical of cells influenced by differential cell adhesion. Dynamic and reciprocal waves of N-cadherin and M-cadherin expression within the myotome, which correlate precisely with cell migration, generate differential adhesive environments that drive slow-twitch muscle cell migration through the myotome. Removing or altering the expression of either protein within the myotome perturbs migration. These results provide a definitive example of homophilic cell adhesion shaping cellular behavior during vertebrate development.

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