Transcriptionally dynamic progenitor populations organised around a stable niche drive axial patterning

Development. 2019 Jan 2;146(1):dev168161. doi: 10.1242/dev.168161.


The elongating mouse anteroposterior axis is supplied by progenitors with distinct tissue fates. It is not known whether these progenitors confer anteroposterior pattern to the embryo. We have analysed the progenitor population transcriptomes in the mouse primitive streak and tail bud throughout axial elongation. Transcriptomic signatures distinguish three known progenitor types (neuromesodermal, lateral/paraxial mesoderm and notochord progenitors; NMPs, LPMPs and NotoPs). Both NMP and LPMP transcriptomes change extensively over time. In particular, NMPs upregulate Wnt, Fgf and Notch signalling components, and many Hox genes as progenitors transit from production of the trunk to the tail and expand in number. In contrast, the transcriptome of NotoPs is stable throughout axial elongation and they are required for normal axis elongation. These results suggest that NotoPs act as a progenitor niche whereas anteroposterior patterning originates within NMPs and LPMPs.

Keywords: Hox; Lateral and paraxial mesoderm; Mouse; Neuromesodermal; Notochord progenitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology*
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / embryology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Notochord / cytology
  • Notochord / embryology*
  • Primitive Streak / cytology
  • Primitive Streak / embryology
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Receptors, Notch