Identification of emergent motion compartments in the amniote embryo

Rajprasad Loganathan, Charles D. Little, Pranav Joshi, Michael B. Filla, Tracey J. Cheuvront, Rusty Lansford, Brenda J. Rongish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tissue scale deformations (_1mm) required to form an amniote embryo are poorly understood. ere, we studied »400 mm-sized explant units from gastrulating quail embryos. The explants deformed in a reproducible manner when grown using a novel vitelline membrane-based culture method. Time-lapse recordings of latent embryonic motion patterns were analyzed after disk-shaped tissue explants were excised from three specific regions near the primitive streak: 1) anterolateral epiblast, 2) posterolateral epiblast, and 3) the avian organizer (Hensen’s node). The explants were cultured for 8 hours—an interval equivalent to gastrulation. Both the anterolateral and the posterolateral epiblastic explants engaged in concentric radial/centrifugal tissue expansion. In sharp contrast, Hensen’s node explants displayed Cartesian-like, elongated, bipolar deformations—a pattern reminiscent of axis elongation. Time-lapse analysis of explant tissue motion patterns indicated that both cellular motility and extracellular matrix fiber (tissue) remodeling take place during the observed morphogenetic deformations. As expected, treatment of tissue explants with a selective Rho-Kinase (p160ROCK) signaling inhibitor, Y27632, completely arrested all morphogenetic movements. Microsurgical experiments revealed that lateral epiblastic tissue was dispensable for the generation of an elongated midline axis— provided that an intact organizer (node) is present. Our computational analyses suggest the possibility of delineating tissue-scale morphogenetic movements at anatomically discrete locations in the embryo. Further, tissue e deformation patterns, as well as the mechanical state of the tissue, require normal actomyosin function. We conclude that amniote embryos contain tissue-scale, regionalized morphogenetic motion generators, which can be assessed using our novel computational time-lapse imaging approach. These data and future studies—using explants excised from overlapping anatomical positions—will contribute to understanding the emergent tissue flow that shapes the imniote embryo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-364
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Amniote
  • Explants
  • Gastrulation
  • Morphogenesis
  • Time-lapse imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Developmental Biology
  • Transplantation


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