Zebrafish gastrulation entails morphogenetic cell movements that shape the body plan and give rise to an embryo with defined anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral axes. Regulating these cell movements are diverse signaling pathways and proteins including Wnts, Src-family tyrosine kinases, cadherins, and matrix metalloproteinases. While our knowledge of how these proteins impact cell polarity and migration has advanced considerably in the last decade, almost no data exist regarding the organization of extracellular matrix (ECM) during zebrafish gastrulation. Here, we describe for the first time the assembly of a fibronectin (FN) and laminin containing ECM in the early zebrafish embryo. This matrix was first detected at early gastrulation (65% epiboly) in the form of punctae that localize to tissue boundaries separating germ layers from each other and the underlying yolk cell. Fibrillogenesis increased after mid-gastrulation (80% epiboly) coinciding with the period of planar cell polarity pathway-dependent convergence and extension cell movements. We demonstrate that FN fibrils present beneath deep mesodermal cells are aligned in the direction of membrane protrusion formation. Utilizing antisense morpholino oligonucleotides, we further show that knockdown of FN expression causes a convergence and extension defect. Taken together, our data show that similar to amphibian embryos, the formation of ECM in the zebrafish gastrula is a dynamic process that occurs in parallel to at least a portion of the polarized cell behaviors shaping the embryonic body plan. These results provide a framework for uncovering the interrelationship between ECM structure and cellular processes regulating convergence and extension such as directed migration and mediolateral/radial intercalation.
2009 International Society of Matrix Biology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.