Colonization of the avian hindgut by cells derived from the sacral neural crest

Dev Biol. 1990 Feb;137(2):378-94. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(90)90262-h.


Studies were done to test the hypothesis that the chick hindgut is colonized by emigrés from the sacral region of the neural crest. Crest-derived cells were identified immunocytochemically with the monoclonal antibody, NC-1, and by their ability to give rise to neurons or glia in the bowel. Neurons were recognized by demonstrating acetylcholinesterase activity, neurofilament immunoreactivity, or the immunoreactivity of a neurofilament-associated protein, NAPA-73, with a monoclonal antibody, E/C8. The visualization of glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity was employed to detect enteric glia. Separate rostral and caudal populations of NC-1-immunoreactive cells were detected in stage 21 embryos (Day E3.5) that extended in continuous streams from the sacral crest to the hindgut. The rostral group, coexpressed neural markers, while the caudal population did not. The rostral, dually labeled cells appeared to become embedded in the mesenchyme of the dorsal bowel by Day E4 and then to enter the mesentery by Day E5 to give rise to the ganglion of Remak. The caudal NC-1-immunoreactive group, which did not express neural markers, appeared to ascend within the colorectum and, in contrast to the rostral cells, fully encircled the gut. NC-1-immunoreactive neurons and glia developed in organotypic tissue cultures and chorioallantoic membrane grafts of both dorsal and ventral halves of the postumbilical bowel explanted at Days E4 and 5, ages known to precede the colonization of the hindgut by cells from the vagal crest. These observations are consistent with the view that NC-1-immunoreactive cells, which do not express neural markers, migrate from the sacral crest to the hindgut. A subset of these cells appears to be capable of giving rise to neurons in vitro, explaining the development of neurons in the explants of the ventral halves of the gut; however, the fate of the sacral crest-derived cells in situ remains to be established.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intermediate Filaments / ultrastructure
  • Intestines / embryology
  • Intestines / innervation*
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Neural Crest / physiology*
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neurons / cytology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biomarkers
  • Acetylcholinesterase