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Dev Biol. 2009 Jun 15;330(2):221-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.03.018. Epub 2009 Mar 28.

Fate map and morphogenesis of presumptive neural crest and dorsal neural tube.

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California Institute of Technology, Division of Biology, Beckman Institute (139-74), 1200 East California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


In contrast to the classical assumption that neural crest cells are induced in chick as the neural folds elevate, recent data suggest that they are already specified during gastrulation. This prompted us to map the origin of the neural crest and dorsal neural tube in the early avian embryo. Using a combination of focal dye injections and time-lapse imaging, we find that neural crest and dorsal neural tube precursors are present in a broad, crescent-shaped region of the gastrula. Surprisingly, static fate maps together with dynamic confocal imaging reveal that the neural plate border is considerably broader and extends more caudally than expected. Interestingly, we find that the position of the presumptive neural crest broadly correlates with the BMP4 expression domain from gastrula to neurula stages. Some degree of rostrocaudal patterning, albeit incomplete, is already evident in the gastrula. Time-lapse imaging studies show that the neural crest and dorsal neural tube precursors undergo choreographed movements that follow a spatiotemporal progression and include convergence and extension, reorientation, cell intermixing, and motility deep within the embryo. Through these rearrangement and reorganization movements, the neural crest and dorsal neural tube precursors become regionally segregated, coming to occupy predictable rostrocaudal positions along the embryonic axis. This regionalization occurs progressively and appears to be complete in the neurula by stage 7 at levels rostral to Hensen's node.

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