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Dev Dyn. 1999 Jan;214(1):55-65.

Spatial and temporal changes in chondroitin sulfate distribution in the sclerotome play an essential role in the formation of migration patterns of mouse neural crest cells.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Japan.


We have examined the roles of pertinent extracellular matrix molecules in the formation of the neural crest cell migration patterns in the sclerotome of the mouse embryo. The present data indicate that permissiveness for migration is inversely correlated with chondroitin sulfate content. Experimental removal of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the embryo causes neural crest cells to migrate even within the posterior half of the somite, which they do not invade ordinarily. Moreover, three different sclerotomal regions defined by the presence or absence of the ventromedial and/or ventrolateral pathways are present along the anteroposterior axis and undergo systematic temporal changes that affect migration patterns. The most anterior portion of the sclerotome is conducive to both ventromedial and ventrolateral migration (Anterior Region). The intermediate portion is conducive to ventromedial migration only (Intermediate Region). No neural crest cells are seen within the posterior portion of the sclerotome (Posterior Region). At this level, they are observed exclusively in the dorsolateral space adjacent to the roof of the neural tube. With advancing embryonic development, the rostrocaudal length of the Anterior Region decreases and is accompanied by a corresponding enlargement of the Intermediate Region. These results suggest that temporal and regional differences in the sclerotome contribute to the neural crest cell migration patterns in the mouse. To refine our understanding of the underlying mechanisms, regional differences and temporal changes in the distribution of extracellular matrix molecules have been examined during migration. In the sclerotome, chondroitin sulfate displays distinct distribution patterns that are closely correlated with the migration patterns of mouse neural crest cells. Furthermore, their migration patterns are altered in embryos treated with the inhibitors of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan biosynthesis, sodium chlorate, and beta-D-xyloside. In inhibitor-treated embryos, neural crest cell migration occurs even in the posterior portion of the sclerotome. The metameric organization of dorsal root ganglia is disturbed in these embryos. Our observations provide novel evidence for the importance of sclerotomal chondroitin sulfate distribution patterns in mouse crest cell migration patterns. We conclude that systematic spatiotemporal changes in the distribution of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans are a key requisite for the formation of migration patterns of mouse neural crest cells in the sclerotome.

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