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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2000;47:107-29.

Segmentation: a view from the border.

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Department of Genetics and Development, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Segmentation, or metamerism, consists of the subdivision of the body into discrete units that subsequently acquire regional specializations. In vertebrates, the most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon is seen during the formation of the mesodermal somites and their derivatives. This review surveys three different models for how somites form, and how they relate to recent molecular data suggesting the involvement of transcription factors and cell surface molecules. A new model (the "Morse code" model) is proposed to convey positional information to somitogenic cells. Finally, the molecular events of boundary formation (during the initial epithelialization of somites) and boundary maintenance (between adjacent somite halves as well as in resegmentation) are discussed.

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