Extracellular matrix fluctuations during early embryogenesis

Phys Biol. 2011 Aug;8(4):045006. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/8/4/045006. Epub 2011 Jul 12.


Extracellular matrix (ECM) movements and rearrangements were studied in avian embryos during early stages of development. We show that the ECM moves as a composite material, whereby distinct molecular components as well as spatially separated layers exhibit similar displacements. Using scanning wide field and confocal microscopy we show that the velocity field of ECM displacement is smooth in space and that ECM movements are correlated even at locations separated by several hundred micrometers. Velocity vectors, however, strongly fluctuate in time. The autocorrelation time of the velocity fluctuations is less than a minute. Suppression of the fluctuations yields a persistent movement pattern that is shared among embryos at equivalent stages of development. The high resolution of the velocity fields allows a detailed spatio-temporal characterization of important morphogenetic processes, especially tissue dynamics surrounding the embryonic organizer (Hensen's node).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avian Proteins / analysis*
  • Avian Proteins / metabolism
  • Coturnix / embryology*
  • Coturnix / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / ultrastructure
  • Embryonic Development
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure*
  • Fibrillins
  • Fibronectins / analysis*
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Motion


  • Avian Proteins
  • Fibrillins
  • Fibronectins
  • Microfilament Proteins