Transplanted mesencephalic quail cells colonize selectively all primary visual nuclei of chick diencephalon: a study using heterotopic transplants

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1989 Jun 1;47(2):263-74. doi: 10.1016/0165-3806(89)90181-8.


A portion of the quail mesencephalic alar plate (10-12 somites embryos, second day of incubation) was heterotopically transplanted to replace a portion of the diencephalic alar plate of a similar stage chick embryo. Analysis of the chimeric embryos on day 18 of incubation was performed both by Feulgen and Rossenbeck histochemical staining to recognize the transplanted cells, and by cytoarchitectonic methods. The heterotopically transplanted neuroepithelia were integrated in the host pretectal area, although their precise location, substituting some missing host pretectal nuclei, varied slightly from case to case. The cytoarchitecture of the graft and its extension allowed to distinguish two types of transplants: in 50% of the cases the graft developed a laminated, tectal-like structure appearing as a supernumerary optic tectum, whereas in the other 50% of the cases it gave rise to a smaller, not well-defined, non-laminated structure, which could not be recognized as tectal. Independent of the extension and cytoarchitecture of the grafts, in all cases numerous transplanted quail cells were observed beyond the limits of the graft spreading along the optic tract, into all the retino-recipient diencephalic nuclei and into the mesencephalic tectal gray. Conversely, the host optic tectum and the non-primary visual nuclei, even those in close apposition to the transplant, were always devoid of transplanted cells. Analysis of 5- to 10-day-old chimeric embryos has shown that the ectopically located mesencephalic quail cells start migrating from the transplant on day 7 of incubation and follow a tangential pathway at the surface of the diencephalon, throughout the optic tract and between the optic tract and the incipient primary visual nuclei. On day 10, many of these cells have already invaded most of the host retino-recipient nuclei. These observations are discussed with respect to both the phenotypic expression of the transplanted primordium and the tangential migration of tectal cells previously observed in homotopically transplanted chimeric embryos. The possible significance of these results is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Diencephalon / embryology
  • Diencephalon / physiology*
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Mesencephalon / transplantation*
  • Quail / physiology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*