The yolk syncytial layer (YSL) plays crucial roles in early zebrafish development. The YSL is a transient extra-embryonic syncytial tissue that forms during early cleavage stages and persists until larval stages. During gastrulation, the YSL undergoes highly dynamic movements, which are tightly coordinated with the movements of the overlying germ layer progenitor cells, and has critical functions in cell fate specification and morphogenesis of the early germ layers. Movement coordination between the YSL and blastoderm cells is dependent on contact between these tissues, and is probably required for the patterning and morphogenetic function of the YSL. In this review, we will discuss recent advances in elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the YSL morphogenesis and movement coordination between the YSL and blastoderm during early development.
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