The Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis comprises 78 cells which cover the external surface of the embryo as a single cell layer. These cells secrete the cuticle from their exterior faces and support the body wall muscles and most of the nervous system on their interior faces. The epidermal cells arise by autonomous embryonic cell lineages but show regulative interactions after their assembly into an epithelium. It is believed that the various epidermal cells express different kinds or amounts of surface molecules that govern their mutual assembly and also guide the attachments and migrations of the underlying body muscles and neurones. The first muscles and neurones may in turn express new surface molecules that refine later cell movements. Mutations in some 30 known genes disrupt the movements of cells or axons along the body wall.

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