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Dev Biol. 1985 Sep;111(1):243-55.

Avian spinal cord chimeras. I. Hatching ability and posthatching survival in homo- and heterospecific chimeras.


Quail-chick spinal cord chimeras were constructed by grafting isotopically, at the brachial level, the neural tube of a quail embryo into a chick of the same developmental stage. The chimeras were allowed to hatch and their behavior and survival after birth were observed. We found that if white Leghorns of the rapid-feathering strain were taken as hosts, the ability of the operated embryos to hatch was higher than in the slow-feathering wild-type chickens. The important point arising from this study is that the establishment of the neuronal circuits and of the connexions of the grafted neurons to their peripheral and central targets occurs between cells of two different species in such a way that normal behavior of the chimera is ensured. These animals can stand, walk, and fly as normal chickens do. Moreover, the size reached by the fragment of quail spinal cord implanted into the chick axial structures is larger than it would have been in the donor at the same age. This results in perfectly normal morphogenesis of the vertebrae which develop from the chick somites at the level of the graft. The pigment pattern of the chick feathers colonized by quail melanoblasts of graft origin is very close to that of the quail, albeit somewhat different, probably due to the different size of the feathers in the two species. Normality of the chimeras is only transient. During the second month of their life they develop a neurological syndrome characterized first by the paralysis of the wings and later by their inability to stand. In strong contrast, spinal cord chimeras constructed between two histoincompatible chickens, remain healthy and seem to develop a complete tolerance to the graft. What seems to be the development of an immune rejection of the grafted neural tube in the quail-chick spinal cord chimeras is now under investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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