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A vital dye analysis of the timing and pathways of avian trunk neural crest cell migration
G.N. Serbedzija, M. Bronner-Fraser, S.E. Fraser


To permit a more detailed analysis of neural crest cell migratory pathways in the chick embryo, neural crest cells were labelled with a nondeleterious membrane intercalating vital dye, DiI. All neural tube cells with endfeet in contact with the lumen, including premigratory neural crest cells, were labelled by pressure injecting a solution of DiI into the lumen of the neural tube. When assayed one to three days later, migrating neural crest cells, motor axons, and ventral root cells were the only cells types external to the neural tube labelled with DiI. During the neural crest cell migratory phase, distinctly labelled cells were found along: (1) a dorsolateral pathway, under the epidermis, as well adjacent to and intercalating through the dermamyotome; and (2) a ventral pathway, through the rostral portion of each sclerotome and around the dorsal aorta as described previously. In contrast to those cells migrating through the sclerotome, labelled cells on the dorsolateral pathway were not segmentally arranged along the rostrocaudal axis. DiI-labelled cells were observed in all truncal neural crest derivatives, including subepidermal presumptive pigment cells, dorsal root ganglia, and sympathetic ganglia. By varying the stage at which the injection was performed, neural crest cell emigration at the level of the wing bud was shown to occur from stage 13 through stage 22. In addition, neural crest cells were found to populate their derivatives in a ventral-to-dorsal order, with the latest emigrating cells migrating exclusively along the dorsolateral pathway.