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Dev Dyn. 1999 Jul;215(3):273-83.

Bending of the neural plate during mouse spinal neurulation is independent of actin microfilaments.

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Neural Development Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


To examine the role of actin microfilaments in mouse spinal neurulation, we stained cryosections of E8.5-10.5 CBA/Ca embryos with FITC-phalloidin. Microfilaments are present in the apical region of all cells throughout the neuroepithelium, irrespective of whether they are involved in bending of the neural plate. Disruption of the microfilaments with cytochalasin D inhibited closure of the cranial neural folds in cultured embryos, even at the lowest concentrations tested, and prevented the initiation of spinal neurulation (Closure 1) at higher concentrations. In contrast, closure of the posterior neuropore was resistant to cytochalasin D at the highest concentrations tested. Phalloidin staining and transmission electron microscopy confirmed that cytochalasin D is effective in disassembling microfilaments in spinal neuroepithelial cells. We conclude that spinal neural tube closure does not require microfilament function, in contrast to cranial neurulation which is strongly microfilament-dependent. Histological examination of cytochalasin D-treated embryos revealed that bending at hinge points, both in the midline (MHP) and dorsolaterally (DLHPs), continues in the absence of microfilaments, whereas the rigidity of non-bending regions of the neural plate is lost. This suggests that spinal neurulation can continue in the presence of cytochalasin D largely as a result of intrinsic bending of the neural plate at hinge points. Cytochalasin D treatment is a useful tool for revealing the localisation of hinge points in the neural plate. Analysis of treated embryos demonstrates a transition, along the spinal axis, from closure solely involving midline bending, at high levels of the spinal axis, to closure solely involving dorsolateral bending, low in the spinal region. These findings support the idea of mechanistic heterogeneity in mouse neurulation, along the body axis, and demonstrate that contraction of actin microfilaments is not obligatory for epithelial bending during embryonic morphogenesis. Dev Dyn 1999;215:273-283.

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