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Development. 1994 May;120(5):1265-76.

Tissue and cellular patterning of the musculature in chick wings.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


Development of the musculature involves generation of a precise number of individual muscles arranged in appropriate locations, each with the correct cellular patterning. To find out the rules that govern muscle number and arrangement, the forearm musculature of chick wing buds was analysed following grafts of the polarizing region or application of retinoic acid. Muscle patterns appear symmetrical with 'posterior' muscles now forming in the anterior part of the wing. When the number of muscles that develop is reduced, pattern symmetry is maintained, with loss of anterior muscles in the mid-line, especially dorsally. Strict anteroposterior ordering of muscles in duplicated patterns does not always occur. The number of muscles that develops bears some relationship to the number of forearm elements. Each muscle has a characteristic pattern of fast and slow fibres. In duplicated wings, each pair of symmetrically arranged muscles has the same fibre type pattern. Not only are proportions of fast and slow fibres similar, but local variations in fibre type arrangement within the muscle are also reproduced. This suggests that the cellular pattern within the new 'posterior' muscles at the anterior of the limb has been re-specified. In manipulated limb buds, which will develop a duplicated muscle pattern, there are no detectable changes in distribution and number of potentially myogenic cells, and fibre type patterning within early muscle masses also appears normal. In contrast, the splitting process that divides up muscle masses is altered. The appropriate fibre type arrangement only emerges after splitting is complete. This suggests that tissue patterning and cellular patterning occur at different times during muscle development.

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