The migration of neural crest cells and the growth of motor axons through the rostral half of the chick somite

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1985 Dec;90:437-55.


We have studied the pathway of migration of neural crest cells through the somites of the developing chick embryo, using the monoclonal antibodies NC-1 and HNK-1 to stain them. Crest cells, as they migrate ventrally from the dorsal aspect of the neural tube, pass through the lateral part of the sclerotome, but only through that part of the sclerotome which lies in the rostral half of each somite. This migration pathway is almost identical to the path which presumptive motor axons take when they grow out from the neural tube shortly after the onset of neural crest migration. In order to see whether the ventral root axons are guided along this pathway by neural crest cells, we surgically excised the neural crest from a series of embryos, and examined the pattern of axon outgrowth approximately 24 h later. In somites which contained no neural crest cells, ventral root axons were still found only in the rostral half of the somite, although axonal growth was slightly delayed. These axons were surrounded by sheath cells, which had presumably migrated out of the neural tube, to a point about 50 micron proximal to the growth cones. With appropriate antibodies we found that the extracellular matrix components fibronectin and laminin are evenly distributed between the rostral and caudal halves of the somite. Neither of these molecules therefore plays a critical role in determining the specific pathway of neural crest cells or motor axons through the rostral half of the somite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fibronectins / analysis
  • Laminin / analysis
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neural Crest / analysis
  • Neural Crest / cytology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Fibronectins
  • Laminin