The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 62: 177 - 182 (2018)

Vol 62, Issue 1-2-3

Special Issue: The Chick Embryo Model System

Segmentation of the chick central and peripheral nervous systems

Published: 14 March 2018

Roger Keynes* and Geoffrey Cook

Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


The chick embryo has provided a prominent model system for the study of segmental patterning in the nervous system. During early development, motor and sensory axon growth cones traverse the anterior/rostral half of each somite, so avoiding the developing vertebral components and ensuring separation of spinal nerves from vertebral bones. A glycoprotein expressed on the surface of posterior half-somite cells confines growth cones to the anterior half-somites by a contact repulsive mechanism. Hindbrain segmentation is also a conspicuous feature of chick brain development. We review how its contemporary analysis was initiated in the chick embryo, and the advantages the chick system continues to provide in its detailed elucidation at both molecular and neural circuit levels.


somite, rhombomere, hindbrain, contact repulsion, lectin

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