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Dev Dyn. 1998 Dec;213(4):349-58.

Migration of hypoglossal myoblast precursors.

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Department of Experimental Pathology, Kings College London, United Kingdom.


The intrinsic hypoglossal musculature develops from precursor myoblasts which undergo long-range migration from the occipital somites to the tongue. Little detail is known about the precise spatiotemporal pathway taken by these cells or the factors controlling migration. In this study, chick/quail chimeras in which the occipital paraxial mesoderm is quail derived, reveal that the pathway taken by the tongue muscle progenitors is both complex and highly specific. Precursor myoblasts are Pax-3 positive cells which descend from the somite and migrate around the pharyngeal endoderm. They then course rostrally, following the base of the pharynx, remaining in a tight strand. We have examined a number of factors implicated in the control of migration of the hypoglossal precursors. Replacement of the occipital somites with those originating in the flank reveals that intrinsic differences do not exist between these somites with respect to their capacity to respond to migratory cues. The lack of high level HGF/SF expression along the pathway of the migrating hypoglossal precursors suggests that this factor is not involved in the actual process of migration of the hypoglossal precursors to the tongue. The pathway followed by the migrating precursors is identical to that of both the developing hypoglossal nerve and the circumpharyngeal crest--a subpopulation of the cranial neural crest, and importantly these populations utilize this pathway before the myoblast precursors. However, ablation neither of the hypoglossal nerve nor of the neural crest results in a perturbation in the ability of this Pax-3 positive population to migrate. This demonstrates that migration of the precursors is independent of both of these cell populations, and that it is controlled by the peripheral tissues.

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