Patterning of avian craniofacial muscles

Dev Biol. 1986 Aug;116(2):347-56. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(86)90138-7.


Vertebrate voluntary muscles are composed of myotubes and connective tissue cells. These two cell types have different embryonic origins: myogenic cells arise from paraxial mesoderm, while in the head many of the connective tissues are formed by neural crest cells. The objective of this research was to study interactions between heterotopically transplanted trunk myotomal cells and presumptive connective tissue-forming cephalic neural crest mesenchyme. Presumptive or newly formed cervical somites from quail embryos were implanted lateral to the midbrain of chick hosts prior to the onset of neural crest emigration. Hosts were sacrificed between 7 and 12 days of incubation, and sections examined for the presence of quail cells. Some grafted tissues differentiated in situ, forming ectopic skeletal, connective, and muscle tissues. However, many myotomal cells broke away from the implant, became integrated into adjacent neural crest mesenchyme, and subsequently formed normal extrinsic ocular or jaw muscles. In these muscles it was evident that only the myogenic populations were derived from grafted trunk cells. Ancillary findings were that grafted trunk paraxial mesoderm frequently interfered with the movement of neural crest cells which form the corneal posterior epithelial and stromal tissues, and that some grafted cells formed ectopic intramembranous bones adjacent to the eye. These results verify that presumptive connective tissue-forming mesenchyme derived from the neural crest imparts spatial patterning information upon myogenic cells that invade it. Moreover, interactions between myotomal cells and both lateral plate somatic mesoderm in the trunk and neural crest mesenchyme in the head appear to operate according to similar mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / embryology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Chick Embryo
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism*
  • Cornea / embryology
  • Coturnix
  • Eyelids / embryology
  • Head
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Muscles / transplantation
  • Neural Crest / cytology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / embryology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / transplantation