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Development. 2006 Jul;133(13):2507-15. Epub 2006 May 25.

Radial intercalation of ciliated cells during Xenopus skin development.

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Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Cells with motile cilia cover the skin of Xenopus tadpoles in a characteristic spacing pattern. This pattern arises during early development when cells within the inner layer of ectoderm are selected out by Notch to form ciliated cell precursors (CCPs) that then radially intercalate into the outer epithelial cell layer to form ciliated cells. When Notch is inhibited and CCPs are overproduced, radial intercalation becomes limiting and the spacing of ciliated cells is maintained. To determine why this is the case, we used confocal microscopy to image intercalating cells labeled using transplantation and a transgenic approach that labels CCPs with green fluorescent protein (GFP). Our results indicate that inner cells intercalate by first wedging between the basal surface of the outer epithelium but only insert apically at the vertices where multiple outer cells make contact. When overproduced, more CCPs are able to wedge basally, but apical insertion becomes limiting. We propose that limitations imposed by the outer layer, along with restrictions on the apical insertion of CCPs, determine their pattern of radial intercalation.

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