The presence of polarizing activity in the limb buds of developing avian embryos determines the pattern of the anteroposterior axis of the limbs in the adult. Maps of the spatial distribution and the strength of the signal within limb buds of different stages are well documented. Polarizing activity can also be found in Hensen's node in the early embryo. We have mapped the distribution of polarizing activity as it emerges from Hensen's node and spreads into the flank tissue of the embryo. There is a clear change in the local pattern of expression of polarizing activity between stage 8 and 18. Almost no activity is measured for stages 8 and 9. More or less uniform levels of around 10% are spread along the flank lateral to the unsegmented somitic mesoderm from somite position 12 to 22 in stage 10 embryos. Some 6 to 8 h later at stage 12, there is a distinct peak of activity at somite position 18, the middle of the wing field. This peak increases at stages 13 to 15 and its position traverses to the posterior edge of the wing field. Full strength of activity is reached shortly before the onset of limb bud formation at stage 16 to 17. Stages 16 to 18 were investigated for polarizing activity in the wing and the leg field. Low levels of polarizing activity are present in the anterior leg field at stages 16 and 17 but have disappeared by stage 18 and all activity is confined to the posterior part of the leg bud.

This content is only available via PDF.