Embryo's cell stampede

Feb 23, 2011 by Jonathan Wood

As an embryo grows towards its final adult form, the initial fertilized egg cell must divide many times over into cells that will become specialized and form the many different tissues and organs of the body.

This process of is a dynamic one, as this time-lapse video of microscope images illustrates. don’t just sense where they are in the growing embryo and develop into the appropriate tissue. They move around and migrate to where they need to be.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Dr. Shankar Srinivas and colleagues at Oxford University's Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics are working to understand the molecular signals that govern these cell migrations in the early embryo. After all, if this development is disrupted, the embryo may not be viable or it could lead to birth abnormalities. While the work focuses on mouse , the molecular pathways identified will have equivalents in humans.

The video forms part of a report this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It shows that an important set of cells (tagged with a green marker in the left-hand video) – which determine where the head of the embryo will be – move up through the growing embryo, nudging aside neighbouring cells to get where they need to be.

The right-hand video has been artificially colored to make what’s happening clearer. The same cells are coloured green again, while another type of migrating cell is magenta. Static cells, coloured blue, form a barrier to stop both sets migrating too far.

Explore further: Color-coading gene sequences in human cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How plants put down roots

Mar 15, 2010

In the beginning is the fertilized egg cell. Following numerous cell divisions, it then develops into a complex organism with different organs and tissues. The largely unexplained process whereby the cells ...

How do cells travel through our bodies?

Jan 25, 2005

One of the most basic yet least understood processes in our bodies is how cells crawl along tissues. This behavior is essential to the formation of an embryo and other processes, but it must be tightly controlled. A disturbance ...

Recommended for you

Color-coading gene sequences in human cells

10 hours ago

(Phys.org)—Is there a way to peer inside the nucleus of a living cell and see how the genes interact? After the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2001, researchers have focused on epigenetic factors, ...

The origins of polarized nervous systems

Mar 03, 2015

(Phys.org)—There is no mistaking the first action potential you ever fired. It was the one that blocked all the other sperm from stealing your egg. After that, your spikes only got more interesting. Waves ...

New fat cells created quickly, but they don't disappear

Mar 03, 2015

Once fat cells form, they might shrink during weight loss, but they do not disappear, a fact that has derailed many a diet. Yale researchers in the March 2 issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology descri ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.