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Dev Biol. 1991 Mar;144(1):47-53.

Gap junctional communication during limb cartilage differentiation.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06032.


The onset of cartilage differentiation in the developing limb bud is characterized by a transient cellular condensation process in which prechondrogenic mesenchymal cells become closely apposed to one another prior to initiating cartilage matrix deposition. During this condensation process intimate cell-cell interactions occur which are necessary to trigger chondrogenic differentiation. In the present study, we demonstrate that extensive cell-cell communication via gap junctions as assayed by the intercellular transfer of lucifer yellow dye occurs during condensation and the onset of overt chondrogenesis in high density micromass cultures prepared from the homogeneous population of chondrogenic precursor cells comprising the distal subridge region of stage 25 embryonic chick wing buds. Furthermore, in heterogeneous micromass cultures prepared from the mesodermal cells of whole stage 23/24 limb buds, extensive gap junctional communication is limited to differentiating cartilage cells, while the nonchondrogenic cells of the cultures that are differentiating into the connective tissue lineage exhibit little or no intercellular communication via gap junctions. These results provide a strong incentive for considering and further investigating the possible involvement of cell-cell communication via gap junctions in the regulation of limb cartilage differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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