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J Morphol January 1, 2018; 279 (1): 62-74.

Sequence and timing of early cranial skeletal development in Xenopus laevis.

Xenopus laevis is widely used as a model organism in biological research. Morphological descriptions of the larval cartilaginous skeleton are more than half a century old and comprehensive studies of early cartilage differentiation and development are missing. A proper understanding of early cranial skeletal development in X. laevis requires a detailed description that can function as a baseline for experimental studies. This basis makes it possible to evaluate skeletal defects produced by experiments on gene interactions, such as gain- or loss-of function experiments. In this study, we provide a detailed description of the pattern and timing of early cartilage differentiation and development in the larval head of X. laevis. Methods used include antibody staining, confocal laser scanning microscopy and 3D-reconstruction. Results were than compared to earlier studies based on classical histological approaches and clearing-and-staining. The first cartilage to chondrify is, in contrast to other vertebrates investigated so far, the ceratohyal. The components of the branchial basket chondrify in anterior-to-posterior direction as reported for other amphibians. Chondrification of different cartilages begins at different stages and the majority of cartilages are fully developed at Ziermann and Olsson stage 17. Our baseline data on the pattern and timing of early cartilaginous development in X. laevis is useful for evaluation of experiments which alter head skeletal development as well as for identifying heterochronic shifts in head development in other amphibians.

PubMed ID: 28960402
Article link: J Morphol

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