The cell populations and morphogenetic movements that contribute to the formation of the avian primitive streak and organizer-Hensen's node-are poorly understood. We labeled selected groups of cells with fluorescent dyes and then followed them over time during formation and progression of the primitive streak and formation of Hensen's node. We show that (1) the primitive streak arises from a localized population of epiblast cells spanning the caudal midline of Koller's sickle, with the mid-dorsal cells of the primitive streak arising from the midline of the epiblast overlying Koller's sickle and the deeper and more lateral primitive streak cells arising more laterally within the epiblast overlying the sickle, from an arch subtending about 30 degrees; (2) convergent extension movements of cells in the epiblast overlying Koller's sickle contribute to formation of the initial primitive streak; and (3) Hensen's node is derived from a mixture of cells originating both from the epiblast just rostral to the incipient (stage 2) primitive streak and later from the epiblast just rostral to the elongating (stage 3a/b) primitive streak, as well as from the rostral tip of the progressing streak itself. Collectively, these results provide new information on the formation of the avian primitive streak and organizer, increasing our understanding of these important events of early development of amniotes.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.