Fate mapping the avian epiblast with focal injections of a fluorescent-histochemical marker: ectodermal derivatives

J Exp Zool. 1990 Sep;255(3):323-39. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402550309.


A microinjection technique is described for fate mapping the epiblast of avian embryos. It consists of injecting the epiblast of cultured blastoderms with a fluorescent-histochemical marker, examining rhodamine fluorescence at the time of injection in living blastoderms, and assaying for horseradish peroxidase activity in histological sections obtained from the same embryos collected 24 h postinjection. Our results demonstrate that this procedure routinely marks cells, allowing their fates to be determined and prospective fate maps to be constructed. Two such maps are presented for ectodermal derivatives of the epiblast: one for late stages of Hensen's node progression (stages 3c through 4) and one for early stages of node regression (stages 4 + through 5). These new maps have six significant features. First, they show that regardless of whether the node is progressing or regressing, the flat neural plate extends at least 300 microns cranial to, 300 microns bilateral to and 1 mm caudal to the center of Hensen's node. Second, they confirm our previous fate mapping studies based on quail/chick chimeras. Namely, they show that the prenodal midline region of the epiblast forms the floor of the forebrain and the ventrolateral part of the optic vesicles as well as MHP cells (i.e., mainly wedge-shaped neurepithelial cells contained within the median hinge point of the bending neural plate); in contrast, paranodal and postnodal regions contribute L cells (i.e., mainly spindle-shaped neurepithelial cells constituting the lateral aspects of the neural plate). Third, they reveal a second source of MHP cells, Hensen's node, verifying previous studies of others based on tritiated thymidine labeling. Fourth, they demonstrate, in contrast to studies of other based on vital staining, carbon marking, and chorioallantoic grafting but in accordance with our previous studies based on quail/chick chimeras, that the cells contributing to the four craniocaudal subdivisions of the neural tube (i.e., forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain, and spinal cord) are not yet spatially segregated from one another at the flat neural plate stage, although more cranial neural plate cells tend to form more cranial subdivision and more caudal cells tend to form more caudal subdivisions. Thus, single injections routinely mark multiple neural tube subdivisions. Probable reasons for the discrepancy between our present results and the previous results of others is discussed. Fifth, they suggest that cells contributing to the surface ectoderm and neural plate are not yet completely spatially segregated from one another at the flat neural plate stage, particularly in caudal postnodal regions. Sixth, they delineate the locations of the otic placodes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastoderm / cytology*
  • Chick Embryo / cytology
  • Chick Embryo / embryology*
  • Ectoderm / cytology
  • Embryology / methods*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Microinjections*
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Rhodamines


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines
  • rhodamine isothiocyanate