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Exp Neurol. 1991 Feb;111(2):228-43.

Direct observation in vitro of how neuroblasts migrate: medulla and cochleovestibular ganglion of the chick embryo.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030.


The hypothesis that neuroblasts migrate in the nervous system by a locomotory process was tested experimentally. An in vitro preparation permitted direct observation of postmitotic cells migrating from the rhombic lip of the medulla and the anlage of the cochleovestibular ganglion. Cell locomotion was not seen. Instead migration was produced by elongation of a leading process, followed by translocation of the nucleus (perikaryal translocation). On the basis of comparisons with previous observations in situ, we propose that this represents a common mode of migration in the developing nervous system. Cell clusters were explanted from the rhombic lip at the developmental stage when they migrate from the ventricular zone to the acoustico-vestibular anlage in the medulla. Cells from the cochleovestibular ganglion were explanted after migration from the otocyst, but before ganglionic differentiation. Each neuroblast's migration route was formed by an elongating leading process ending in a growth cone. The growth cone attached to other cells and processes or ended freely on an acellular substrate. Nonneuronal cells usually migrated as has been described for fibroblasts, yet with some of the features of perikaryal translocation, but some nonneuronal precursor cells may migrate the way neuroblasts do. Neuroblasts did not migrate preferentially on the processes of nonneuronal cells, although the reverse could be observed. In fact a variety of interactions between migratory cells, neuronal and nonneuronal, were observed. The advantage of the experimental system described here is that one can observe cells migrating spontaneously at the times in development when they normally do so, while preserving the cellular populations present in situ.

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