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Development. 2000 Nov;127(21):4611-7.

Mediolateral somitic origin of ribs and dermis determined by quail-chick chimeras.

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  • 1Equipe Biologie de la Différenciation Epithéliale, UMR CNRS 5538, LEDAC, Institut Albert Bonniot, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


Somites are transient mesodermal structures giving rise to all skeletal muscles of the body, the axial skeleton and the dermis of the back. Somites arise from successive segmentation of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). They appear first as epithelial spheres that rapidly differentiate into a ventral mesenchyme, the sclerotome, and a dorsal epithelial dermomyotome. The sclerotome gives rise to vertebrae and ribs while the dermomyotome is the source of all skeletal muscles and the dorsal dermis. Quail-chick fate mapping and diI-labeling experiments have demonstrated that the epithelial somite can be further subdivided into a medial and a lateral moiety. These two subdomains are derived from different regions of the primitive streak and give rise to different sets of muscles. The lateral somitic cells migrate to form the musculature of the limbs and body wall, known as the hypaxial muscles, while the medial somite gives rise to the vertebrae and the associated epaxial muscles. The respective contribution of the medial and lateral somitic compartments to the other somitic derivatives, namely the dermis and the ribs has not been addressed and therefore remains unknown. We have created quail-chick chimeras of either the medial or lateral part of the PSM to examine the origin of the dorsal dermis and the ribs. We demonstrate that the whole dorsal dermis and the proximal ribs exclusively originates from the medial somitic compartment, whereas the distal ribs derive from the lateral compartment.

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