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Dev Cell. 2007 Dec;13(6):884-96.

Live imaging and genetic analysis of mouse notochord formation reveals regional morphogenetic mechanisms.

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Program in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada.


The node and notochord have been extensively studied as signaling centers in the vertebrate embryo. The morphogenesis of these tissues, particularly in mouse, is not well understood. Using time-lapse live imaging and cell lineage tracking, we show the notochord has distinct morphogenetic origins along the anterior-posterior axis. The anterior head process notochord arises independently of the node by condensation of dispersed cells. The trunk notochord is derived from the node and forms by convergent extension. The tail notochord forms by node-derived progenitors that actively migrate toward the posterior. We also reveal distinct genetic regulation within these different regions. We show that Foxa2 compensates for and genetically interacts with Noto in the trunk notochord, and that Noto has an evolutionarily conserved role in regulating axial versus paraxial cell fate. Therefore, we propose three distinct regions within the mouse notochord, each with unique morphogenetic origins.

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