Temporal sequence in the formation of midline dermis and dorsal vertebral elements in avian embryos


Ruijin Huang, Institute of Anatomy, University of Bonn, Nussallee 10, 53115 Bonn, Germany. E: ruijin.huang@uni-bonn.de


Somites compartmentalize into a dorsal epithelial dermomyotome and a ventral mesenchymal sclerotome. While sclerotomes give rise to vertebrae and intervertebral discs, dermomyotomes contribute to skeletal muscle and epaxial dermis. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-signals from the lateral mesoderm induce the lateral portion of the dermomyotome to form chondrogenic precursor cells, forming the cartilage of the scapula blade. The fact that BMPs are expressed in the roof plate of the neural tube where they induce cartilage formation led to the question why cells migrating from the medial part of the dermomyotome do not undergo chondrogenic differentiation and do not contribute to the dorsal part of the vertebrae. In the present study, we traced dermomyotomal derivatives by using the quail–chick marker technique. Our study reveals a temporal sequence in the formation of the vertebral cartilage and the midline dermis. The dorsal mesenchyme overlying the roof plate of the neural tube is formed prior to the de-epithelialization of the dermomyotome. Dermomyotomal cells start to migrate medially into the sub-ectodermal space to form the midline dermis after chondrogenesis of the dorsal mesenchyme has occurred. This time delay between chondrogenesis of the dorsal vertebra and dermal formation allows an undisturbed development of these two tissue components within a narrow region of the embryo.