In amniotes, unlike primary neurulation in the anterior body, secondary neurulation (SN) proceeds along with axial elongation by the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition of SN precursors in the tail bud. It has been under debate whether the SN is generated by neuromesodermal common progenitor cells (NMPs) or neural restricted lineage. Our direct cell labeling and serial transplantations identify uni-fated (neural) precursors in the early tail bud. The uni-fated SN precursor territory is further divided into two subpopulations, neural-differentiating and self-renewing cells, which are regulated by high- and low levels of Sox2, respectively. Unexpectedly, uni-fated SN precursors change their fate at later stages to produce both SN and mesoderm. Thus, chicken embryos adopt a previously unappreciated prolonged phase with uni-fated SN stem cells in the early tail bud, which is absent or very limited in mouse embryos.
Keywords: Chicken embryo; Secondary neurulation; Sox2; Stem cells; Tail bud.
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