Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Development. 1998 Mar;125(6):983-94.

Oriented cell divisions and cellular morphogenesis in the zebrafish gastrula and neurula: a time-lapse analysis.

Author information

  • 1University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford University, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


We have taken advantage of the optical transparency of zebrafish embryos to investigate the patterns of cell division, movement and shape during early stages of development of the central nervous system. The surface-most epiblast cells of gastrula and neurula stage embryos were imaged and analysed using a computer-based, time-lapse acquisition system attached to a differential interference contrast (DIC) microscope. We find that the onset of gastrulation is accompanied by major changes in cell behaviour. Cells collect into a cohesive sheet, apparently losing independent motility and integrating their behaviour to move coherently over the yolk in a direction that is the result of two influences: towards the vegetal pole in the movements of epiboly and towards the dorsal midline in convergent movements that strengthen throughout gastrulation. Coincidentally, the plane of cell division becomes aligned to the surface plane of the embryo and oriented in the anterior-posterior (AP) direction. These behaviours begin at the blastoderm margin and propagate in a gradient towards the animal pole. Later in gastrulation, cells undergo increasingly mediolateral-directed elongation and autonomous convergence movements towards the dorsal midline leading to an enormous extension of the neural axis. Around the equator and along the dorsal midline of the gastrula, persistent AP orientation of divisions suggests that a common mechanism may be involved but that neither oriented cell movements nor shape can account for this alignment. When the neural plate begins to differentiate, there is a gradual transition in the direction of cell division from AP to the mediolateral circumference (ML). ML divisions occur in both the ventral epidermis and dorsal neural plate. In the neural plate, ML becomes the predominant orientation of division during neural keel and nerve rod stages and, from late neural keel stage, divisions are concentrated at the dorsal midline and generate bilateral progeny (C. Papan and J. A. Campos-Ortega (1994) Roux's Arch. Dev. Biol. 203, 178-186). Coincidentally, cells on the ventral surface also orient their divisions in the ML direction, cleaving perpendicular to the direction in which they are elongated. The ML alignment of epidermal divisions is well correlated with cell shape but ML divisions within the neuroepithelium appear to be better correlated with changes in tissue morphology associated with neurulation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center