Control of segment number in vertebrate embryos

Céline Gomez, Ertuǧrul M. Özbudak, Joshua Wunderlich, Diana Baumann, Julian Lewis, Olivier Pourquié

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Abstract

The vertebrate body axis is subdivided into repeated segments, best exemplified by the vertebrae that derive from embryonic somites. The number of somites is precisely defined for any given species but varies widely from one species to another. To determine the mechanism controlling somite number, we have compared somitogenesis in zebrafish, chicken, mouse and corn snake embryos. Here we present evidence that in all of these species a similar 'clock-and-wavefront' mechanism operates to control somitogenesis; in all of them, somitogenesis is brought to an end through a process in which the presomitic mesoderm, having first increased in size, gradually shrinks until it is exhausted, terminating somite formation. In snake embryos, however, the segmentation clock rate is much faster relative to developmental rate than in other amniotes, leading to a greatly increased number of smaller-sized somites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume454
Issue number7202
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 17 2008

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Gomez, C., Özbudak, E. M., Wunderlich, J., Baumann, D., Lewis, J., & Pourquié, O. (2008). Control of segment number in vertebrate embryos. Nature, 454(7202), 335-339. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07020