The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 41: 575 - 579 (1997)

Vol 41, Issue 4

Regulation of the chick cutaneous innervation pattern in retinoic acid-induced ectopic feathers and in the naked neck mutant

Published: 1 August 1997

L Pays, F J Hemming and R Saxod

Laboratoire de Neurobiologie du Développement Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


In chick skin, nerve fibers develop in a typical network formed by arcades around the base of feathers. In this study, we tried to dissociate the morphogenesis of nerve arcades and feathers, and to clarify the implication of several matricial molecules in these two developmental events. For this purpose, cutaneous nerve pattern and distribution of fibronectin, tenascin, and three epitopes of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) have been immunohistologically studied in the skin of the specific apteria of naked neck chick mutants, which lack feathers in the neck area, and in the tarso-metatarsal zone of retinoic acid-treated embryos where ectopic feathers grow. The presence of feathers was always associated with nerve arcades; no arcades were present in featherless areas. Specific immunofluorescence for tenascin and two epitopes of CSPGs revealed different distributions in the naked-neck neo-apteria as compared to control apteria. Moreover, the only difference in matricial composition in ectopic feathers concerned a CSPG isoform, bringing additional evidence that extracellular matrix molecules, and especially some (but not all) CSPGs, are involved both directly and indirectly in the cutaneous nerve pattern development.

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