ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-071211-1
A central role for the notochord in vertebral patterning
Fleming, A., Keynes, R., and Tannahill, D.
Date: 2004
Source: Development (Cambridge, England)   131(4): 873-880 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Fleming, Angeleen
Keywords: Segmentation, Somites, Notochord, Vertebrae, Bone, Zebrafish
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning/physiology*
  • Bone Matrix/physiology
  • Cartilage/metabolism
  • Notochord*/embryology
  • Notochord*/physiology
  • Osteoblasts/metabolism
  • Zebrafish/embryology
PubMed: 14736741 Full text @ Development
The vertebrates are defined by their segmented vertebral column, and vertebral periodicity is thought to originate from embryonic segments, the somites. According to the widely accepted 'resegmentation' model, a single vertebra forms from the recombination of the anterior and posterior halves of two adjacent sclerotomes on both sides of the embryo. Although there is supporting evidence for this model in amniotes, it remains uncertain whether it applies to all vertebrates. To explore this, we have investigated vertebral patterning in the zebrafish. Surprisingly, we find that vertebral bodies (centra) arise by secretion of bone matrix from the notochord rather than somites; centra do not form via a cartilage intermediate stage, nor do they contain osteoblasts. Moreover, isolated, cultured notochords secrete bone matrix in vitro, and ablation of notochord cells at segmentally reiterated positions in vivo prevents the formation of centra. Analysis of fss mutant embryos, in which sclerotome segmentation is disrupted, shows that whereas neural arch segmentation is also disrupted, centrum development proceeds normally. These findings suggest that the notochord plays a key, perhaps ancient, role in the segmental patterning of vertebrae.