A scanning electron microscopic study in early gastrulae of Ambystoma maculatum showed that migrating presumptive mesodermal cells were strongly oriented toward the animal pole. They had lamellipodia and filopodia at their leading edges, and rounded or tapering, tail-like, trailing edges. Of the cells whose polarization could be determined unequivocally, 81% appeared to be directed in a quadrant toward the animal pole, and 93% were directed to some extent away from the blastopore. This strong orientation suggests that specific mechanisms direct cell movement, in addition to the non-specific dispersive mechanism of the contact inhibition of cell movement. There is a network of fine extracellular fibrils that covers the inner surface of the ectodermal layer. Filopodia of the migrating cells frequently attach to and appear to follow the fibrils, suggesting that the fibrils serve as a guiding substratum for cell attachment and movement. There are areas where the fibrils are apparently aligned along the blastopore-animal pole axis, and a preliminary statistical analysis using micrographs at high magnification showed a significant alignment parallel to the blastopore-animal pole axis. This fibril alignment could cause the strong orientation of the mesodermal cells by means of contact guidance.

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