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Bull Math Biol. 2000 May;62(3):501-25.

A chemotactic model for the advance and retreat of the primitive streak in avian development.

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  • 1Centre for Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Institute, Oxford, U.K.


The formation of the primitive streak in early avian development marks the onset of gastrulation, during which large scale cell movement leads to a trilaminar blastoderm comprising prospective endodermal, mesodermal and ectodermal tissue. During streak formation a specialized group of cells first moves anteriorly as a coherent column, beginning from the posterior end of the prospective anterior-posterior axis (a process called progression), and then reverses course and returns to the most posterior point on the axis (a process called regression). To date little is known concerning the mechanisms controlling either progression or regression. Here we develop a model in which chemotaxis directs the cell movement and which is capable of reproducing the principal features connected with progression and regression of the primitive streak. We show that this model exhibits a number of experimentally-observed features of normal and abnormal streak development, and we propose a number of experimental tests which may serve to illuminate the mechanisms. This paper represents the first attempt to model the global features of primitive streak formation, and provides an initial stage in the development of a more biologically-realistic discrete cell model that will allow for variation of properties between cells and control over movement of individual cells.

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