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Cell Tissue Res. 1986;244(2):299-313.

Morphogenesis of sclerotome and neural crest in avian embryos. In vivo and in vitro studies on the role of notochordal extracellular material.


The distribution of sclerotome and neural crest cells of avian embryos was studied by light and electron microscopy. Sclerotome cells radiated from the somites towards the notochord, to occupy the perichordal space. Neural crest cells, at least initially, also entered cell-free spaces. At the cranial somitic levels they moved chiefly dorsal to the somites, favouring the rostral part of each somite. These cells did not approach the perichordal space. More caudally (i.e. trunk levels), neural crest cells initially moved ventrally between the somites and neural tube. Adjacent to the caudal half of each somite, these cells penetrated no further than the myosclerotomal border, but opposite the rostral somite half, they were found next to the sclerotome almost as far ventrally as the notochord. However, they did not appear to enter the perichordal space, in contrast to sclerotome cells. When tested in vitro, sclerotome cells migrated towards notochords co-cultured on fibronectin-rich extracellular material, and on collagen gels. In contrast, neural crest cells avoided co-cultured notochords. This avoidance was abolished by inclusion of testicular hyaluronidase and chondroitinase ABC in the culture medium, but not by hyaluronidase from Streptomyces hyalurolyticus. The results suggest that sclerotome and neural crest mesenchyme cells have a different distribution with respect to the notochord, and that differential responses to notochordal extracellular material, possibly chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan, may be responsible for this.

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