Cellular processes driving gastrulation in the avian embryo

Guillermo Serrano Nájera, Cornelis J. Weijer (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)
    374 Downloads (Pure)


    Gastrulation consists in the dramatic reorganisation of the epiblast, a one-cell thick epithelial sheet, into a multilayered embryo. In chick, the formation of the internal layers requires the generation of a macroscopic convection-like flow, which involves up to 50,000 epithelial cells in the epiblast. These cell movements locate the mesendoderm precursors into the midline of the epiblast to form the primitive streak. There they acquire a mesenchymal phenotype, ingress into the embryo and migrate outward to populate the inner embryonic layers. This review covers what is currently understood about how cell behaviours ultimately cause these morphogenetic events and how they are regulated. We discuss 1) how the biochemical patterning of the embryo before gastrulation creates compartments of differential cell behaviours, 2) how the global epithelial flows arise from the coordinated actions of individual cells, 3) how the cells delaminate individually from the epiblast during the ingression, and 4) how cells move after the ingression following stereotypical migration routes. We conclude by exploring new technical advances that will facilitate future research in the chick model system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number103624
    Number of pages14
    JournalMechanisms of Development
    Early online date17 Jun 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


    • Cell flows
    • Chick embryo
    • Gastrulation
    • Intercalation
    • Morphogenesis
    • Patterning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Embryology
    • Developmental Biology


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