Development requires tissue growth as well as cell diversification. To address how these processes are coordinated, we analyzed the development of molecularly distinct domains of neural progenitors in the mouse and chick neural tube. We show that during development, these domains undergo changes in size that do not scale with changes in overall tissue size. Our data show that domain proportions are first established by opposing morphogen gradients and subsequently controlled by domain-specific regulation of differentiation rate but not differences in proliferation rate. Regulation of differentiation rate is key to maintaining domain proportions while accommodating both intra- and interspecies variations in size. Thus, the sequential control of progenitor specification and differentiation elaborates pattern without requiring that signaling gradients grow as tissues expand.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.