Somites are transient mesodermal structures giving rise to all skeletal muscles of the body, the axial skeleton and the dermis of the back. Somites arise from successive segmentation of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). They appear first as epithelial spheres that rapidly differentiate into a ventral mesenchyme, the sclerotome, and a dorsal epithelial dermomyotome. The sclerotome gives rise to vertebrae and ribs while the dermomyotome is the source of all skeletal muscles and the dorsal dermis. Quail-chick fate mapping and diI-labeling experiments have demonstrated that the epithelial somite can be further subdivided into a medial and a lateral moiety. These two subdomains are derived from different regions of the primitive streak and give rise to different sets of muscles. The lateral somitic cells migrate to form the musculature of the limbs and body wall, known as the hypaxial muscles, while the medial somite gives rise to the vertebrae and the associated epaxial muscles. The respective contribution of the medial and lateral somitic compartments to the other somitic derivatives, namely the dermis and the ribs has not been addressed and therefore remains unknown. We have created quail-chick chimeras of either the medial or lateral part of the PSM to examine the origin of the dorsal dermis and the ribs. We demonstrate that the whole dorsal dermis and the proximal ribs exclusively originates from the medial somitic compartment, whereas the distal ribs derive from the lateral compartment.
We have identified a glycoprotein (BEN) of 95–100 × 10(3) Mr using a monoclonal antibody. This protein is transiently expressed at the cell surface of the peripherally projecting neurons, i.e. motoneurons of the spinal cord and cranial nuclei, sensory neurons of the dorsal root and cranial sensory ganglia and sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric neurons. In vitro cultures of dorsal root and sympathetic ganglia have shown that BEN is expressed on neurons but not on glial cells. On motor and sensory neurons, BEN first appears at the level of the cell body just after withdrawal from the cell cycle. Soon afterwards, expression of the antigen extends to the elongating axon. After a few days, BEN is no longer expressed by the motor and sensory neurons, disappearing first from the cell body and then progressively from the fibres. The loss of expression is concomitant with the onset of intense proliferation of satellite and Schwann cells. This modulated expression within the nervous system is unlike that of any surface glycoprotein so far described in vertebrates. Preliminary biochemical analysis indicates that, although it bears the adhesion-associated epitope HNK-1, BEN does not share characteristics with any previously described axonal glycoprotein. Consequently, we speculate that this glycoprotein might be a novel molecule implicated in selective adhesion phenomena, such as axonal fasciculation.
In situ implantation of a quail wing bud into a chick embryo at 4 days of incubation (E4) regularly results in the normal development of the implant followed by its acute rejection starting within two weeks post-hatching. If the epithelial thymic rudiments of the quail donor are implanted into the branchial arch area of the chick recipient after partial removal of its own thymic primordia, a chimeric thymus develops in the chick host and this induces tolerance to the quail wing by the chick recipient. The species identity of cells in chimeric thymuses was mapped using Feulgen-Rossenbeck' staining and immunolabelling with monoclonal antibodies directed against quail or chick B-L antigens. Certain lobes contained only chick cells both at the stromal and hemopoietic cell levels. Others had a quail epithelial stroma containing host hemopoietically derived cells. Only chimeras in which at least one third of the thymic lobes were chimeric showed permanent tolerance to the grafted wing. Since the two species exhibit distinct developmental rates, we decided to study the kinetics of thymic involution after birth. Although the changes in thymus weight and histological structure are fundamentally similar in quail and chick, those in the quail start about 7–8 weeks earlier. In the chimeric thymuses, the lobes whose epithelial cells were quail involuted at the rate of control quail showing no influence of the hemopoietic thymic compartment in this process. Tolerance induced by the thymic epithelium during embryogenesis and in early postnatal life was maintained after a profound involution of the quail thymic graft had occurred.