Determination of epithelial half-somites in skeletal morphogenesis

Ronald S. Goldstein, Chaya Kalcheim

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    The segmental body plan of vertebrates arises from the metameric organization of the paraxial mesoderm into somites. Each mesodermal somite is subdivided into at least two distinct domains: rostral and caudal. The segmental pattern of dorsal root ganglia, sympathetic ganglia and nerves is imposed by differential properties of either somitic domain. In the present work, we have extended these studies by investigating the contribution of rostral or caudal-half somites to vertebral development using grafts of multiple somite halves. In both rostral and caudal somitic implants, the grafted mesoderm dissociates normally into sclerotome and dermomyotome, and the sclerotome further develops into vertebrae. However, the morphogenetic capabilities of each somitic half differ. The pedicle of the vertebral arch is almost continuous in caudal half-somite grafts and is virtually absent in rostral half-somite implants. Similarly, the intervertebral disk is present in rostral half-somite chimeras, and much reduced or virtually absent in caudal somite chimeras. Thus, only the caudal half cells are committed to give rise to the vertebral pedicle, and only the rostral half cells are committed to give rise to the fibrocartilage of the intervertebral disk. Each vertebra is therefore composed of a pedicle-containing area, apparently formed by the caudal half-somite, followed by a pedicle-free zone, the intervertebral foramen, derived from the rostral somite. These data directly support the hypothesis of resegmentation, in which vertebrae arise by fusion of the caudal and rostral halves of two consecutive somites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)441-445
    Number of pages5
    JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Oct 1992


    • Avian embryos
    • Peripheral nervous system
    • Quailchick chimeras
    • Vertebral development


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