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Interdigital tissue chondrogenesis induced by surgical removal of the ectoderm in the embryonic chick leg bud
J. M. Hurle, Y. Gañan


In the present work, we have analysed the possible involvement of ectodermal tissue in the control of interdigital mesenchymal cell death. Two types of experiments were performed in the stages previous to the onset of interdigital cell death: (i) removal of the AER of the interdigit; (ii) removal of the dorsal ectoderm of the interdigit. After the operation embryos were sacrificed at 10–12h intervals and the leg buds were studied by whole-mount cartilage staining, vital staining with neutral red and scanning electron microscopy.

Between stages 27 and 30, ridge removal caused a local inhibition of the growth of the interdigit. In a high percentage of the cases, ridge removal at these stages was followed 30–40 h later by the formation of ectopic nodules of cartilage in the interdigit. The incidence of ectopic cartilage formation was maximum at stage 29 (60%). In all cases, cell death took place on schedule although the intensity and extent of necrosis appeared diminished in relation to the intensity of inhibition of interdigital growth and to the presence of interdigital cartilages. Ridge removal at stage 31 did not cause inhibition of the growth of the interdigit and ectopic chondrogenesis was only detected in 3 out of 35 operated embryos.

Dorsal ectoderm removal from the proximal zone of the interdigit at stage 29 caused the chondrogenesis of the proximal interdigital mesenchyme in 6 out of 18 operated embryos. The pattern of neutral red vital staining was consistent with these results revealing a partial inhibition of interdigital cell death in the proximal zone of the interdigit.

It is proposed that under the present experimental conditions the mesenchymal cells are diverted from the death programme by a primary transformation into cartilage.


    • Accepted January 16, 1986.