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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1978 Jun;45:189-202.

Control of somite number in normal and amputated mutant mouse embryos: an experimental and a theoretical analysis.


A regulation is shown for size and number of serially repeated axial structures, the somites, in a mammalian embryo. The mammalian embryo is normally inaccessible to operation at post-implantation stages. This problem is resolved by the quantitative analysis of somite size, number and development in a recessive mutant of the mouse, amputated, whose axial length is greatly reduced. The effect of the gene simulates an experiment ablating part of the embryonic tissue available for somitic segmentation. Regulation occurs at the time when the somite is first formed, by control of the quantity of cells included in each new somite. A model is devised for the control of somitic segmentation which explains most of the features observed and which can be simulated on a computer.

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