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Dev Biol. 1986 Mar;114(1):87-101.

Precardiac cell migration: fibronectin localization at mesoderm-endoderm interface during directional movement.


The pathway of directional movement of chick precardiac mesoderm cells was studied by indirect immunofluorescence and by scanning electron microscopy. Directional movement of the precardiac cells begins at stage 6 from the lateral sides of the embryo at the level of Hensen's node. The cells move anteriorly in an arc to the embryo's midline. By stage 8 the cells arrive at the lateral sides of the anterior intestinal portal and movement ceases. The interval of this directional movement is approximately 10 hr. During migration the precardiac cells are in close association with the underlying endoderm. As migration proceeds, the cells encounter increasing amounts of fibrils in the substratum at the mesoderm-endoderm interface. Concomitant with increasing fibril formation there is an increase in fibronectin (FN) in the heart-forming region. During stage 5 FN first appears in the lateral heart-forming regions and increases in amount during the period of cell migration. By stage 7 a concentration difference of FN is apparent in the lateral regions with more FN cephalad and decreasing amounts caudad. At stages 7 and 8 large amounts of extracellular FN-associated fibrils are observed at the lateral sides of the anterior intestinal portal where the cells stop moving. The precardiac cells moving into this region are oriented perpendicular to the anterior intestinal portal and in close association with these fibrils. There is no evidence that the fibrillar meshwork forming the substratum of the precardiac mesoderm cells is physically oriented as a guide for directional movement. The correlations between FN distribution at the mesoderm-endoderm interface and directional cell movement suggest that the precardiac cells may migrate by haptotaxis, i.e., by moving along the substratum toward areas of greater adhesiveness.

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