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Mech Dev. 1996 Nov;60(1):73-82.

Spatial and temporal effects of axial structures on myogenesis of developing somites.

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Institut d'Embryologie Cellulaire et Mol├ęculaire du C.N.R.S., Nogent sur Marne, France.


To elucidate the precise roles of axial structures in the myogenic differentiation of the somite, we have examined the effects of the axial organs' precise spatial position during migration and differentiation of somitic cells by using in vivo transplantation of the neural tube and of the notochord directly into the paraxial mesoderm. Differentiation of myotomal cells was identified through the use of Quox 1 antibody which recognizes specifically a quail homeoprotein Quox 1. We have demonstrated that both ectopic neural tube and notochord are able to influence the myogenesis in somites, but that the spatial position of axial organs and the degree of somite maturation at grafting time are decisive. At the level of the somites which were already formed and developmentally advanced (somites III-VI), both neural tube and notochord promote myogenesis, and the promoting effect of notochord is more efficient than that of the neural tube. In the newly formed somites (I-II) and/or the segmental plate mesoderm, the notochord inhibits the myogenesis of somites, whereas the neural tube plays an evident myogenic promoting role. But the myogenic effect of the neural tube depends not only upon the stage of developing somites and presomitic mesoderm, but also on the developmental maturation of the neural tube. We have demonstrated that the myogenic effect of the rostral part of neural tube is stronger than that of its caudal part. This observation suggests that there is a gradient of myogenic effect along the rostrocaudal axis of the neural tube, which depends on the developmental maturation of neural tube, and that the generation of skeletal muscle during somitogenesis may be in relation with the rostrocaudal gradient of the capacity of the neural tube to stimulate myogenesis since somites are also distributed along an anteroposterior axis.

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