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Abstract

Electron microscopy and indirect immunofluorescence were employed to correlate the distribution patterns of major contractile proteins (actin and myosin) with 1) the organizational state of microfilaments, 2) the apical cell surface topography, 3) the shape of the neuroepithelial cells, and 4) the degree of bending of the neuroepithelium during neurulation in chick embryos at Hamburger and Hamilton stages 5–10 of development. Both actin and myosin are present at these developmental stages and colocalize in the neural plate as well as in later phases of neurulation. During elevation of neural folds, actin- and myosin-specific fluorescence is always most intense in regions where the greatest degree of bending of the neuroepithelium takes place [e.g., the midline of the V-shaped neuroepithelium (early neural fold stage) and the midlateral walls of the “C”-shaped neuroepithelium (mid–neural-fold stage)]. This intense fluorescence coincides with 1) a particularly dense packing of microfilaments and 2) highly constricted cell apices. After neural folds make contact, there is an overall reduction in both the intensity of apical fluorescence and the thickness of apical microfilament bundles, especially in the roof and floor of the neural tube. The remaining fluorescence in the contact area is apparently related to cellular movements during fusion of neural folds.