Main content area

Dynamic behaviors of the non-neural ectoderm during mammalian cranial neural tube closure

Ray, Heather J., Niswander, Lee A.
Developmental biology 2016
amphibians, brain, chickens, chicks, confocal microscopy, embryo (animal), humans, image analysis, mice, mutants, neural tube defects, spinal cord
The embryonic brain and spinal cord initially form through the process of neural tube closure (NTC). NTC is thought to be highly similar between rodents and humans, and studies of mouse genetic mutants have greatly increased our understanding of the molecular basis of NTC with relevance for human neural tube defects. In addition, studies using amphibian and chick embryos have shed light into the cellular and tissue dynamics underlying NTC. However, the dynamics of mammalian NTC has been difficult to study due to in utero development until recently when advances in mouse embryo ex vivo culture techniques along with confocal microscopy have allowed for imaging of mouse NTC in real time. Here, we have performed live imaging of mouse embryos with a particular focus on the non-neural ectoderm (NNE). Previous studies in multiple model systems have found that the NNE is important for proper NTC, but little is known about the behavior of these cells during mammalian NTC. Here we utilized a NNE-specific genetic labeling system to assess NNE dynamics during murine NTC and identified different NNE cell behaviors as the cranial region undergoes NTC. These results bring valuable new insight into regional differences in cellular behavior during NTC that may be driven by different molecular regulators and which may underlie the various positional disruptions of NTC observed in humans with neural tube defects.