Localization of cells of the prospective neural plate, heart and somites within the primitive streak and epiblast of avian embryos at intermediate primitive-streak stages

Cells Tissues Organs. 2001;169(4):334-46. doi: 10.1159/000047900.


By constructing avian transplantation chimeras using fluorescently-labeled grafts and antibodies specific for grafted cells, we have generated a prospective fate map of the primitive streak and epiblast of the avian blastoderm at intermediate primitive-streak stages (stages 3a/3b). This high-resolution map confirms our previous study on the origin of the cardiovascular system from the primitive streak at these stages and provides new information on the epiblast origin of the neural plate, heart and somites. In addition, the origin of the rostral endoderm is now documented in more detail. The map shows that the prospective neural plate arises from the epiblast in close association with the rostral end of the primitive streak and lies within an area extending 250 microm rostral to the streak, 250 microm lateral to the streak and 125 microm caudal to the rostral border of the streak. The future floor plate of the neural tube arises within the midline just rostral to the streak, confirming our earlier study, but unlike at the late-primitive streak stages when both Hensen's node and the midline area rostral to Hensen's node contribute to the floor plate, only the area rostral to the primitive streak contributes to the floor plate at intermediate primitive-streak stages. Instead of contributing to the floor plate of the neural tube, the rostral end of the primitive streak at intermediate primitive-streak stages forms the notochord as well as the rostromedial endoderm, which lies beneath the prechordal plate mesoderm and extends caudolaterally on each side toward the cardiogenic areas. The epiblast lateral to the primitive streak and caudal to the neural plate contributes to the heart and it does so in rostrocaudal sequence (i.e., rostral grafts contribute to rostral levels of the straight heart tube, whereas progressively more caudal grafts contribute to progressively more caudal levels of the straight heart tube), and individual epiblast grafts contribute cells to both the myocardium and endocardium. The prospective somites (i.e., paraxial mesoderm) lie within the epiblast just lateral to the prospective heart mesoderm. Comparing this map with that constructed at late primitive-streak stages reveals that by the late primitive-streak stages, prospective heart mesoderm has moved from the epiblast through the primitive streak and into the mesodermal mantle, and that some of the prospective somitic mesoderm has entered the primitive streak and is undergoing ingression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Blastoderm / cytology*
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Gastrula / cytology*
  • Heart / embryology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Quail
  • Somites / cytology
  • Transplantation Chimera
  • Transplants


  • Fluorescent Dyes