Segmentation of the zebrafish axial skeleton relies on notochord sheath cells and not on the segmentation clock

More about Open Access at the Crick


Segmentation of the axial skeleton in amniotes depends on the segmentation clock, which patterns the paraxial mesoderm and the sclerotome. While the segmentation clock clearly operates in teleosts, the role of the sclerotome in establishing the axial skeleton is unclear. We severely disrupt zebrafish paraxial segmentation, yet observe a largely normal segmentation process of the chordacentra. We demonstrate that axial notochord sheath cells are responsible for chordacentrum mineralization, and serve as a marker for axial segmentation. While autonomous within the notochord sheath, expression and centrum formation show some plasticity and can respond to myotome pattern. These observations reveal for the first time the dynamics of notochord segmentation in a teleost, and are consistent with an autonomous patterning mechanism that is influenced, but not determined by adjacent paraxial mesoderm. This behavior is not consistent with a clock-type mechanism in the notochord.

Journal details

Journal eLife
Volume 7
Pages e33843
Available online
Publication date

Crick labs/facilities