Cell movement during chick primitive streak formation

Manli Chuai, Wei Zeng, Xuesong Yang, Veronika Boychenko, James A. Glazier, Cornelis J. Weijer

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    99 Citations (Scopus)


    Gastrulation in amniotes begins with extensive re-arrangements of cells in the epiblast resulting in the formation of the primitive streak. We have developed a transfection method that enables us to transfect randomly distributed epiblast cells in the Stage XI–XIII chick blastoderms with GFP fusion proteins. This allows us to use time-lapse microscopy for detailed analysis of the movements and proliferation of epiblast cells during streak formation. Cells in the posterior two thirds of the embryo move in two striking counter-rotating flows that meet at the site of streak formation at the posterior end of the embryo. Cells divide during this rotational movement with a cell cycle time of 6–7 h. Daughter cells remain together, forming small clusters and as result of the flow patterns line up in the streak. Expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, P21/Waf inhibits cell division and severely limits embryo growth, but does not inhibit streak formation or associated flows. To investigate the role off cell–cell intercalation in streak formation we have inhibited the Wnt planar-polarity signalling pathway by expression of a dominant negative Wnt11 and a Dishevelled mutant Xdd1. Both treatments do not result in an inhibition of streak formation, but both severely affect extension of the embryo in later development. Likewise inhibition of myosin II which as been shown to drive cell–cell intercalation during Drosophila germ band extension, has no effect on streak formation, but also effectively blocks elongation after regression has started. These experiments make it unlikely that streak formation involves known cell–cell intercalation mechanisms. Expression of a dominant negative FGFR1c receptor construct as well as the soluble extracellular domain of the FGFR1c receptor both effectively block the cell movements associated with streak formation and mesoderm differentiation, showing the importance of FGF signalling in these processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-149
    Number of pages13
    JournalDevelopmental Biology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • Primitive streak
    • Cell division
    • Cell intercalation
    • FGF signalling


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