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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Oct 25;91(22):10435-9.

Heterogeneity in the development of the vertebra.

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  • 1Institut d'Embryologie Celluaire et Mol├ęculaire du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et du Coll├Ęge de France, Nogent-sur-marne, France.


Vertebrae are derived from the sclerotomal moities of the somites. Sclerotomal cells migrate ventrally to surround the notochord, where they form the vertebral body, and dorsolaterally to form the neural arch, which is dorsally closed by the spinous process. Precursor cells of the spinous process as well as superficial ectoderm and roof plate express homeobox genes of the Msh family from embryonic day 2 (E2) to E6. The notochord has been shown to be responsible for the dorsoventral polarization of the somites and for the induction of sclerotomal cells into cartilage. Indeed, supernumerary notochord grafted laterally to the neural tube induces the conversion of the entire somite into cartilage. We report here that a mediodorsal graft of notochord prevents the sclerotomal cells migrating dorsally to the roof plate from differentiating into cartilage. Under these experimental conditions, expression of Msx genes is abolished. We thus demonstrate that cartilaginous, differentiation is differentially controlled in the dorsal part of the vertebra (spinous process) and in the neural arch and vertebral body.

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