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Development. 1988 Oct;104(2):285-95.

A cell-type-specific abnormality of cell proliferation in mutant (curly tail) mouse embryos developing spinal neural tube defects.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.


The mouse mutant curly tail (ct) provides a model system for studies of neurulation mechanisms. 60% of ct/ct embryos develop spinal neural tube defects (NTD) as a result of delayed neurulation at the posterior neuropore whereas the remaining 40% of embryos develop normally. In order to investigate the role of cell proliferation during mouse neurulation, cell cycle parameters were studied in curly tail embryos developing spinal NTD and in their normally developing litter-mates. Measurements were made of mitotic index, median length of S-phase and percent reduction of labelling index during a [3H]thymidine pulse-chase experiment. These independent measures of cell proliferation rate indicate a reduced rate of proliferation of gut endoderm and notochord cells in the neuropore region of embryos developing spinal NTD compared with normally developing controls. The incidence of cell death and the relative frequency of mitotic spindle orientations does not differ consistently between normal and abnormal embryos. These results suggest a mechanism of spinal NTD pathogenesis in curly tail embryos based on failure of normal cell proliferation in gut endoderm and notochord.

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