Development of the apical ectodermal ridge in the chick leg bud and a comparison with the wing bud



Histologic examination of the leg bud of stage-18 to stage-23 chick embryos was carried out with special reference to the development of the apical ectodermal ridge. The leg bud apical ectoderm, initially an irregular columnar epithelium with an overlying simple squamous periderm, began to thicken during stage 18 and was a pseudostratified epithelium by stage 19. A notch in the base of the thickened ectoderm was seen as early as stage 19. The notch represented the cross-sectional view of a groove, which developed in the base of the ridge. As development proceeded, the ridge and its associated groove lengthened. In addition, the groove became more prominent, and irregularities were seen in its width and depth along the apex. Ectodermal cell death was not consistently seen until stage 21 at which time most of the length of the thickened ectoderm had evidence of necrosis. Development of the leg bud ridge and wing bud ridge were compared. The temporal sequence of ectodermal thickening and ridge development was very similar in both the leg and wing buds with one exception; namely, that leg bud ridge development preceded wing bud ridge development by several hours. In addition, ectodermal cell death was not evident until stage 20 in the leg bud ridge, but could be seen at late stage 18 in the wing bud apical ectoderm. However, by stage 21, cell death was associated with most of the ridge in both the wing and leg buds. Finally, with respect to the axial line, the ridge with its associated groove extended further preaxially in the leg bud than in the wing bud, making the leg bud ridge more symmetrical.